Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Lightning loses third straight in crushing fashion (w/ video)

NEW YORK — The beating the Lightning took Sunday night was temporarily interrupted late in the third period.

The Rangers' Michael Grabner, who scored nine goals all last season, was celebrating his hat trick, the completion of which put the Lightning down 6-0. Hats fell from the Madison Square Garden stands, a few landing on the subdued Tampa Bay bench.

"We kind of got outclassed," veteran center Brian Boyle said.

The Lightning — back to full strength with the injury returns of Ryan Callahan (hip surgery) and Nikita Kucherov (upper body) — dropped its third consecutive game, 6-1 to the Rangers.

That streak in itself is alarming, coach Jon Cooper said. Though it is early in the season, just nine games in, and teams go through these funks each season — ironically, the Lightning has lost three straight in regulation for the first time since the same dates last season (Oct. 27-31, 2015) — how this skid has happened is the most worrisome to the Lightning.

"You park the bus up to the arena, our whole team got in all the passenger seats and nobody got in the driver's seat," Cooper said. "And when that happens, it's not going to be good."

After Saturday's 3-1 loss in New Jersey, frustrated captain Steven Stamkos said it was up to the players to bring the missing urgency, to come "prepared to play." His message: Just because the Lightning (5-4-0) is coming off back-to-back deep playoff runs and has been picked by many to win the Stanley Cup this season, that doesn't mean success is a given.

"We'll figure out a way to turn it around," Boyle said. "We can't just expect it's going to happen. We need to get to work, obviously. Nine games in, that's a big-enough sample size to sound the alarms, so to speak."

TWO KEY RETURNS: Ryan Callahan makes season debut after hip surgery; Nikita Kucherov is back from injury after one-game absence.

The Lightning's issues are correctable, players say, but that still doesn't make it easy for fans to watch. The Rangers scored four second-period goals to pull away, feeding off numerous odd-man rushes and breakaways. Goalie Ben Bishop unfairly bore the brunt of it, including Rangers fans giving him Bronx cheers every time he touched the puck.

"That's why it was 6-1 — breakaway after breakaway after two-on-one," Cooper said. "Not even the best goalies in the world are going to bail you out of that."

The Lightning has tried to reshuffle its defense pairings the past few games, splitting up top unit Victor Hedman and Anton Stralman, but Cooper said that adjustment hasn't worked. Stralman said the Lightning is coming out of its structure, everyone playing on his own page.

"No defensive awareness," Stralman said. "We just kind of let them go past us and turn pucks over, and they hurt us a lot."

The Lightning, so skilled up front, has scored a combined three goals in the past three games, the only one Sunday a late third-period power-play goal by Stamkos, his sixth goal of the season. It is taking too many penalties, Alex Killorn with three alone Sunday.

Now a road trip that started with such promise — back-to-back wins in Ottawa and Toronto — is getting away from Tampa Bay, which has an off day today before wrapping up the trip Tuesday against the Islanders in Brooklyn.

"This is a test," Cooper said. "We'll see how these guys pull themselves out of this."

Rangers 0 4 2 6
Lightning 0 0 1 1
Rangers 0 4 2 6
Lightning 0 0 1 1

FirstNone. PenaltiesKillorn, TB, (tripping), 12:03; Vesey, NYR, (holding), 13:59; Stamkos, TB, (interference), 17:09; Zuccarello, NYR, (clipping), 18:35.

Second1, NYR, Nash 4 (Holden), 4:45. 2, NYR, Grabner 3 (Hayes, Skjei), 6:42. 3, NYR, Vesey 5 (Nash), 7:04. 4, NYR, Miller 3 (Girardi, Hayes), 18:10. PenaltiesDrouin, TB, (holding), 9:15; Killorn, TB, (roughing), 9:15; Killorn, TB, (tripping), 19:55.

Third5, NYR, Grabner 4 (Mcdonagh, Miller), 9:02. 6, NYR, Grabner 5 (Miller, Hayes), 14:47. 7, TB, Stamkos 6 (Kucherov, Stralman), 16:36 (pp). PenaltiesHolden, NYR, (holding), 9:45; Pirri, NYR, (cross checking), 15:21. Shots on GoalTB 10-11-11—32. NYR 16-15-6—37. Power-play opportunitiesTB 1 of 4; NYR 0 of 5. GoaliesTB, Bishop 3-3-0 (37 shots-31 saves). NYR, Raanta 2-0-0 (32-31).

Lightning defenseman Braydon Coburn skates away from a Rangers group hug as they celebrate a goal by Jimmy Vesey, front, one of four goals New York gets in the second period. The Lightning is kept scoreless until late in the third.

Associated Press

Lightning defenseman Braydon Coburn skates away from a Rangers group hug as they celebrate a goal by Jimmy Vesey, front, one of four goals New York gets in the second period. The Lightning is kept scoreless until late in the third.

Lightning loses third straight in crushing fashion (w/ video) 10/30/16 [Last modified: Monday, October 31, 2016 12:50am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. For starters: Rays at Twins, with Cobb pitching with a purpose

    Blogs

    UPDATE, 12:34: Cash said he has been pleased with Sucre's work and is trying to find playing time for him. ... Cash also said after reading Farquhar's comments about having trouble re-focusing after getting out of a jam and then going back out for a second inning he will factor that in to how he uses him. ... …

  2. St. Petersburg's Sebastien Bourdais vows to return for IndyCar finale

    Auto racing

    INDIANAPOLIS — Sebastien Bourdais was in one of the best race cars he'd ever had, so fast that most of his competitors thought he would win the pole for the Indianapolis 500.

    Sebastien Bourdais does physical therapy at the Rehabilitation Hospital of Indiana in Indianapolis. Bourdais broke his pelvis, hip and two ribs in an accident during qualifying for the Indianapolis 500 on May 20. He plans to return home to St. Petersburg soon to continue therapy. [Associated Press]
  3. Yellow cards stall Rowdies offense in tie with St. Louis

    Soccer

    ST. PETERSBURG — It's not the result they wanted, but it certainly could have been worse. Neill Collins' 87th-minute header off a corner kick was the reward the Rowdies settled for Saturday night during a 1-1 draw with St. Louis before an announced 6,068 at Al Lang Stadium.

  4. Calvary Christian routs Pensacola Catholic to win state baseball title

    Baseballpreps

    FORT MYERS — Calvary Christian left no doubt as to which baseball team in Class 4A was the best in Florida this season. The Warriors defeated Pensacola Catholic 11-1 in six innings Saturday night at Hammond Stadium to claim the school's first state championship in any team sport. It also solidified a 30-0 season. …

    Matheu Nelson celebrates after scoring on a wild pitch during the first inning, when Calvary Christian took a 6-0 lead.
  5. Numerous lapses add up to frustrating Rays loss to Twins

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — While the Rays made some good defensive plays, threw a couple of big pitches when they needed to and got a few, and just a few, key hits, there were some obvious things they did wrong that led to them losing Saturday's game to the Twins 5-3:

    Rays reliever Tommy Hunter says the Twins’ tiebreaking homer came on a pitch that was “close to where I wanted it.”