Third loss for Lightning

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The New York Rangers' Derek Stepan outpaces Tampa Bay's Steve Downie on his way to the goal . (Photo by Bryan Levine / Valencia Voice)

New York Ranger Derek Stepan scored a tie-breaking goal late in the third to advance the Rangers to a five game winning streak and gain a 4-2 victory against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday night at the St. Pete Times Forum.

In the first meeting out of four between the Rangers and the Lightning this season, both teams played a tight defensive game with Lightning goalie Mathieu Garon making 32 saves for the night despite the loss.

The outlook seemed promising in the first period for the Lightning as the first goal of the night came from Steve Downie at 1:24, marking the fastest goal the Lightning have scored all season. The goal was assisted by the Lightning’s leading scorer Steven Stamkos who has recorded a point in 10 out of 11 home games this season.

Lightning head coach Guy Boucher blamed the loss on a lack of urgency. “It’s obviously a game of errors and every team is going to make some, but we can’t excuse those errors,” he said. “Those are errors that should be easily taken care of.”

The Lightning kept a 2-1 lead for the first two periods with another goal coming from Tom Pyatt at 17:42 marking his second goal of the season. Assists came from Dana Tyrell and Nate Thompson.

Defenseman Marc-Andre Bergeron was checked early in the third to give the puck up to the Rangers and allowed Artem Anisimov to put it in the net for a tied game. The Rangers quickly sealed the lead with a tie-breaking goal from Stepan and an empty net goal from Brad Richards with less than a minute left to play.

“I turned it over, looked to make a play, it wasn’t there, turned around and got stripped of the puck,” said Bergeron, regarding the Rangers’ goal from Anisimov that tied the game. “We want to be a good team all around. It doesn’t matter if you have the lead or if you’re trailing; at the end of the day we should be playing pretty much the same way.”

The game remained penalty-less until late in the third period with a call for hooking from Ryan Callahan and Steve Downie and a call for elbowing from Lightning player Pavel Kubina. This was the first time this season that the Lightning have not recorded a single penalty in the first two periods of play.

The loss for the Lightning creates a consecutive three-game losing streak and the fourth loss at home this season. The Rangers, who are ranked fourth in the Eastern Conference, have now won 12 of their last 14 contests to lead the NHL in winning percentage.

The Lightning will go on to play seven of its next nine games on the road starting with the Ottawa Senators on Monday night at the Scotiabank Place arena.