A seven-game win streak coupled by a two-game losing streak has now been sandwiched between a five-game streak, as the Rangers came from behind Saturday night to defeat the Tampa Bay Lightning.
After trailing 2-1 going into the third period, the Rangers capitalized on two rebounds by Artem Anisimov and Derek Stepan to take a 3-2 lead, and Brad Richards iced it with an empty-net goal with 25.7 seconds remaining to pick up his first win in Tampa Bay against his former team.
“It’s the first win I’ve had back here, I really wanted it,” Richards said. “It was a good feeling. Feds scoring. Torts wanted this one, too. The way it ended here was frustrating.”
The Feds he’s referring to is Ruslan Fedotenko, another ex-Lightning player who made his old team pay. After falling behind 1-0 in the second minute of play, the Rangers couldn’t start much in terms of offense. Early in the second period, they were able to get on the board after Fedotenko buried a Richards pass in the crease to knot the game at 1.
But the Rangers answered in the third period, first on an easy tap-in by Anisimov off a shot by Stepan, but started with hard-work by captain Ryan Callahan.
“It was a great forecheck by Cally to takeaway the puck,” Anisimov said. “I thought [Stepan] would pass to me but he didn’t and he took the shot. It was a rebound. It was an easy goal.”
Stepan, who scored the game-winning goal, started the game with a blunder. Lightning forward Steve Downie found a loose puck just inside the Rangers’ zone, and took a slapshot from about 60 feet out. Stepan, who said he was trying to get out of the way, screen Lundqvist, who never saw the puck.
“I just screened Hank, I got in Hank’s way,” Stepan said. “I wanted to get out of the way so he could make the save but I just got stuck.”
Lundqvist was visibly upset after the shot, and appeared to give Stepan a tongue-lashing. “I never saw it,” Lundqvist said. “It’s just a shot that if I see, I stop 1o out of 10 times. It was a misplay.”
The team is finding ways to win games they probably would have lost in recent years, and the success and the feeling that comes with it and contagious.
“We believe in each other,” said Lundqvist. “It doesn’t matter if we’re down or up, we know if we work hard, good things will happen.”
Brian Boyle said the team is in a good spot right now. “Third period comebacks, it’s big. It’s crazy, our attitude in [the room] and on the bench. It was awesome to be a part of.”