Rangers clobber mistake-prone Bolts

by Gary Shelton on December 31, 2023

in general

Vasilevskiy struggled in net./TIM WIRT

Sunday, 4 a.m.

They sound like they used to. They say the right things about eliminating mistakes and playing a full period. 

But the Tampa Bay Lightning don’t look the same.

Worse, they don’t play the same.

The Bolts continue to wallow in mediocrity after a 5-1 thrashing by the New York Rangers Sunday night, The loss left the Bolts at 17-14-5, and just 3-2 on this six-game homestand.

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“We need to put together a string of at least getting points in games to keep ourselves in this race,” said Lightning forward Steven Stamkos.

New York simply looked like the better team, scoring four times on breakaways. The Rangers scored  five times on just 21 shots. But Artemi Panarian scored three times and goaltender Igor Shesterkin, on his 28th birthday, stopped 34 of 35 shots by the Lightning.

Lightning coach Jon Cooper stressed that the Bolts need a win tonight against Montreal to avoid going 3-3 on the home stand. Still, he didn’t seem overly concerned,

“We had 80 shot attempts,” Cooper said. “They had 37. I’ll take that anytime. This group can  play 57 minutes of solid hockey, and in the three minutes that go awry, the puck ends up in the net. The chances we had … for us to only get one, that’s tough. But theirs went in and ours didn’t.”

The Bolts could manage only a second period goal by Nikita Kucherov, his 25th.

Goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy had just 16 saves on 21 shots.

The Bolts are home against the Canadiens at Amalie Arena tonight at 7 p.m.

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