After yet another loss to their archrival ended their winning streak at five, the New York Rangers look to bounce back Wednesday on the road against the Tampa Bay Lightning, who also are coming off their first defeat in six games.
The Rangers lost 2-1 to the Islanders on Monday night to fall to 1-8-2 in their last 11 games against their fierce rival. Michal Rozsival’s short-handed goal early in the second period cut the deficit to one, but the Rangers managed only six shots in the third.
“We allowed frustration to creep into our game,” forward Brendan Shanahan said. “I don’t know if it’s because we want to beat them so badly.
“We place a lot of importance on every game we play. Obviously there is a little bit more emotion involved in this one and sometimes we channel that emotion the wrong way.”
Shanahan and the Rangers (12-8-1) need to refocus that energy Wednesday as they look to end a three-game slide at Tampa. New York has lost three one-goal games at the St. Pete Times Forum - one in a shootout - since a 5-2 victory Nov. 10, 2005. The Rangers are 2-5-1 in their last seven road games against the Lightning, although they’ve won the last two meetings between the teams.
New York took the first matchup of the season 3-1 on Oct. 29.
Henrik Lundqvist continued his strong play in goal for the Rangers on Wednesday, making 22 saves - 12 in the second period to keep his team in it even though the Islanders scored twice. Lundqvist, who has a 1.79 goals-against average this season, is 5-2-2 with a 1.87 GAA in nine games against the Lightning.
Another strong performance by Lundqvist, however, may not be enough to get New York back on track if its power play doesn’t improve. The Rangers’ 14.7-percent conversion rate is among the worst in the Eastern Conference, and they are 2-for-25 in their last five games after going 0-for-5 against the Islanders.
Tampa Bay had its five-game run snapped with a 4-3 overtime loss to Atlanta on Monday despite another terrific effort by Vincent Lecavalier.
The Lightning captain had a goal and an assist to extend his multipoint streak to eight games, longest in the NHL since Jaromir Jagr had 10 straight for Pittsburgh from Feb. 18-March 9, 1996. The center leads the league with 34 points.
Lecavalier has a goal in three of his last four games against New York.
Like the Rangers, the Lightning will be looking to refocus on the task at hand after a frustrating night. Coach John Tortorella was furious with a holding call on Brad Richards in overtime that led to Todd White’s overtime goal 22 seconds later.
“The frustrating part to me is that these organizations pay players millions upon millions of dollars, and they are the ones who should decide the outcome of games,” Tortorella said. “They are the show. I’m trying to stay away from criticizing calls, but (to heck with that). I don’t get it. It makes the coach’s job just that much harder - how do you prepare players when you get that (kind of call) out there? There’s a disconnect somewhere. There’s something obviously wrong with this game.”
Tortorella’s team went 0-for-3 on the power play Wednesday after a 2-for-4 effort in a victory over Washington on Friday.