Lightning Lose The Special Teams Battle In Opening Night Loss To the Rangers

This was an even game five on five, but the Rangers scored a power play goal and a shorthanded goal that prove to be the difference in the 3-1 loss.

The Tampa Bay Lightning opened up the 2022-23 season Tuesday Night with an uninspiring 3-1 loss to the New York Rangers.

The only offense the Lightning could muster was a Steven Stamkos power play goal in the second period that tied the game at 1-1.

This was a rematch of last year’s Eastern Conference Final, where the Lightning beat the Rangers four games to two to advance to their third straight Stanley Cup final.

The Ranger’s win snapped a four-game losing streak against the Lightning going back to game two of last year’s Eastern Conference Final.

The Rangers and Lightning were even five on five but the special team’s play made the difference for both teams.

The Rangers scored a power-play goal and a shorthanded goal that would prove to be the difference in the game.

According to head coach Jon Cooper, the Lightning lost this game due to a failure to execute, not for a lack of effort. “We competed; we just didn’t execute at all. And when you’re not going to do that, it doesn’t matter how hard you try.”

Steven Stamkos scored the lone goal and talked about the Lightning special team’s play. “The PP’s been the same group for a long time, so we should be comfortable no matter what. That’s on us. We don’t want to be giving up shorthanded goals.”

Stamkos also talked about the difference between these games in October and the games they will play in late April and May. “These games mean absolutely nothing compared to what they did last year in the playoffs. It’s not even comparable. That’s a good hockey team over there, and we knew nothing is going to be given to us, but they just executed better than us tonight.”

The Rangers outshot the Lightning 39-26 for the game, generating 19 shots on the power play and playing shorthanded.

Victor Hedman said the team was pretty even five on five but the penalty kill was their Achilles heel in the loss. “Five-on-five, it felt like a very close game. “I don’t know how many shots they had on their power play, but it felt like on the two power plays there, it ticked away pretty quickly.”

“I think five-on-five was a pretty even game, but special teams is part of the game too. We hold ourselves to a high standard when it comes to all parts of the game, so we’ll try to get better at it next game.”

Andrei Vasileviskiy was up to his standard of being the best goalie in the world, as he made three outstanding saves in the first two periods alone, sliding across the crease to keep it a close game.

The Lightning will now head to Columbus to play a Blue Jackets team looking to break out and become a consistent playoff team finally.

The jackets added one of the most dynamic players in the game in, Johnny Gaudreau, and his teammate from Calgary, Erik Gudbranson. The Jackets also added winger Mathieu Olivier.

The puck drops at 7 PM on Friday.

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