For a while, it looked like the Tampa Bay Lightning would author the dreaded “costly win,” as they managed a 1-0 first period lead while seeing Victor Hedman and Patrick Maroon leave the game (and not return) with early injuries.
The New York Rangers were determined to make it a costly loss, instead, beating the Lightning with an impressive 4-1 effort.
Here are some takeaways from a hard-working win by this young Rangers team.
The costly part
After seeing a historic regular season be left in smoldering ruins thanks to a first-round sweep by the Blue Jackets, Lightning coach Jon Cooper wondered if the team wasn’t ready for adversity. Maybe this is a “be careful what you wish for” situation.
Again, Hedman and Maroon were injured on Tuesday. It’s unclear how Hedman got hurt (other than it’s a lower-body issue), while Maroon was injured after fighting with one of the NHL’s last remaining enforcers, Micheal Haley.
The Bolts were already a little banged up to begin with, as Anthony Cirelli missed the game, and Brayden Point was a game-time decision. The Lightning have to hope that Hedman’s new issue is a minor one, as they struggled mightily without him late in 2018-19, including that playoff plummet.
Of course, things weren’t perfect for the Rangers, as they won without star center Mika Zibanejad.
A nice all-around effort by New York
The only goal the Rangers allowed was partially due to the Lightning managing a very long stretch in the attacking zone, and partially based on a bad line change.
But aside from that, they managed to play a strong all-around game, bouncing back from a humbling 7-4 loss against the Bruins. Via Natural Stat Trick, the Rangers generated 11 high-danger chances at 5-on-5 while only allowing five by the Lightning.
Also: Ryan Strome now has a three-game multi-point streak after scoring a goal and an assist, and his overall point streak is at five games (three goals, five assists for eight points).
This was a low-scoring affair until the Rangers really started to break through, in part because of sharp goaltending.
The Rangers face an uphill battle at 4-5-1, but nights like Tuesday strengthen the argument that they’re making some strides in the right direction. Now at 5-4-2, it’s clear that the Lightning have almost as much ground to cover.