For much of Saturday’s game, it seemed like the Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Rangers would stick to the script. The Lightning were stomping around as the NHL’s top team, while the Rangers were slotting in as a team with more focus on the draft lottery.
Instead, the Lightning saw a 3-0 lead shrink to just a 3-2 win, with the Rangers pressing for the tying goal into the final moments.
Really, the Bolts were breathing quite a few sighs of relief. Beyond that narrow victory, it also seems like Nikita Kucherov dodged an injury scare late in the second period.
But, again, the Rangers signaled that they could be an upset threat thanks to the red-hot play of Mika Zibanejad and Mats Zuccarello, most sensationally when Zibanejad and Henrik Lundqvist set up Kevin Hayes via this scintillating set of passes:
(Lundqvist is now the Rangers’ franchise goalie assists leader with 26.)
Hank also made a dazzling save against former Rangers captain Ryan Callahan to keep things close, as you can see in the highlights above this post’s headline.
In an interesting wrinkle, Kucherov became the first player to hit 80 points this season, while the Lightning became the first NHL team to reach 80 standings points in 2018-19.
The Rangers put up quite the fight, but the Lightning stand far ahead of the rest of the league in part because they can win every type of game, even with Brayden Point on the shelf.
In NBC’s other Saturday game, the Blackhawks beat the Wild 4-3 in overtime. Here are the highlights: