NEW YORK — How does the Lightning keep winning?
Grossly outshot and generally outplayed for a second straight game against the Rangers, Tampa Bay somehow came out on top 4-2 Thursday night in a preseason game at Madison Square Garden.
Actually, it isn't rocket science. G Karri Ramo was stellar with 45 saves as New York outshot the Lightning 47-25, giving it a two-game advantage of 87-43. Still, the Lightning led 7-4 in goals.
"I've talked to people around the league who have seen us play," coach Barry Melrose said, "and they say our goaltending is the best they've seen in exhibition games. That's what good goalies do when your team is not great."
Ramo got his second win of the preseason. "I felt pretty good out there. I didn't feel tired. I guess I did something right with conditioning," he said.
It certainly is not the way the Lightning brass envisioned the team operating, especially after spending so much money to upgrade the offense. But Tampa Bay (3-1) has led in shots just once in the preseason and in another game was tied.
And not to pile on, but the Lightning is 2-for-20 on the power play.
Ryan Malone tied the score 2-2 2:18 into the third period by putting in a rebound of Steven Stamkos' shot after the rookie's fine rush from the neutral zone. Marty St. Louis made it 3-2 at 4:36 with an improbable short-side backhander that beat G Stephen Valiquette high to the glove side.
C Chris Gratton got the team's first goal. LW Evgeny Artyukhin scored in an empty net. D Matt Carle, though rough on defense, had three assists. Stamkos had two.
CUTS: The Lightning reduced its roster to 29 by sending D Matt Smaby, RW Brandon Bochenski and C Zenon Konopka to training camp for AHL Norfolk. Bochenski and Konopka must clear waivers.
FLYING FISTS: With time running out to make impressions, Lightning tough guys Konopka and David Koci didn't waste time throwing punches. Koci went toe-to-toe with heavyweight Colton Orr and lost on points, though he hung tough. Three seconds later, off the ensuing faceoff, Konopka fought Aaron Voros.
GOT TICKETS? Though the Oct. 4 and 5 season-opening games between the Rangers and Lightning at the O2 Arena in Prague, Czech Republic, are sold out, Tampa Bay D Andrej Meszaros said he is worried about crowd size for Tuesday's preseason game in Brataslava, Slovakia, where tickets range from about $1,100 for the most expensive VIP suite seats to about $100 for standing room.
"It's so expensive there," the Slovakia native said. "For the regular people and the normal people, you can't actually get those tickets because they're so expensive, people can't afford it."
Meszaros said the game is a big deal in Slovakia, especially because Tampa Bay faces HC Slovan, the country's Extraleague champion.
"It's going to be great," Meszaros said. "I just don't know how many people are going to be there."
MORE MONEY ISSUES: The league apparently is helping the four teams traveling to Europe — the Senators and Penguins are the others — with basic travel costs. The teams also will be compensated for losing a home game each.
ODDS AND ENDS: Despite warnings from Melrose to cut down on his penalties, Artyukhin took two minors, giving him six in four games. ... C Jeff Halpern (knee) said he is still shooting for a mid-December return.