TAMPA — To say Lightning coach Guy Boucher was upset is an understatement. To say the players were disappointed was to underplay how they believed they had failed.
And all this after Tampa Bay beat the Rangers 5-3 Wednesday night at the St. Pete Times Forum for its fifth straight win.
The problem? A third period in which the Lightning (13-7-2), which had thoroughly dominated to build a 5-0 lead after two, became lazy and sloppy and allowed three goals that turned what had been a rout into a reason for a lecture by the coach.
"It's a lack of respect for the opponent in the third period," Boucher said. "It's a lack of respect for our standards, which are extremely high. Everything in the third period just showed that we lacked respect. … It leaves a real bad taste."
"We have to find ways to kick them when they're down," goaltender Mike Smith said. "We have to respect the opponent. No game in this league is over until the buzzer ends the day."
It should have been over after two periods. Ryan Malone, a terror in front of the net, had two power-play goals in the first period, and Tampa Bay added three goals in the second.
Steven Stamkos, who had a three-point game, scored his league-best 21st goal. Brett Clark got his fifth and Victor Hedman his first. Teddy Purcell, Marty St. Louis and Steve Downie had two assists each.
The power play, which was 0-for-6 in its previous two games, scored three times against a Rangers penalty kill that was on a 30 for 31 streak. And the Lightning had a 34-20 shot advantage, punctuated by a streak of 15:29 in which it did not allow a shot.
But Smith, who won his third straight start and fourth straight overall, should have stopped Steve Eminger's goal 3:58 into the third.
Brian Boyle scored shorthanded with 7:09 left, and Derek Stepan scored with 3:04 left on a five-on-three power play with Dominic Moore and Mattias Ohlund in the box, both for delay of game penalties.
Tampa Bay was called for three delay of game penalties in the third period.
"We have to be more conscientious and have that jump and not sit back sometimes," said right wing Adam Hall, also called for delay of game. "We want to learn to have that killer instinct and play a solid third period."
"If you were able to do it in the first or second," Boucher said, "there's no reason in the third why you should change that."
First Period—1, Tampa Bay, Malone 4 (Stamkos, St. Louis), 7:06 (pp). 2, Tampa Bay, Malone 5 (Stamkos, Purcell), 15:37 (pp). Penalties—Callahan, NYR (holding), 6:05; Boogaard, NYR (hooking), 14:47.
Second Period—3, Tampa Bay, Stamkos 21 (Downie, St. Louis), 4:53. 4, Tampa Bay, Clark 5 (Downie, Purcell), 11:05 (pp). 5, Tampa Bay, Hedman 1 (Ritola, Bergenheim), 16:56. Penalties—Dubinsky, NYR (boarding), 7:52; Lundqvist, NYR, served by Prust (diving), 8:34; Malone, TB (interference), 8:34; Staal, NYR (roughing), 10:08; B.Jones, TB (holding), 13:31.
Third Period—6, N.Y. Rangers, Eminger 1 (Stepan), 3:58. 7, N.Y. Rangers, Boyle 10 (Staal, Prust), 12:51 (sh). 8, N.Y. Rangers, Stepan 5 (Gaborik, Del Zotto), 18:56 (pp). Penalties—Hall, TB (delay of game), 5:13; Avery, NYR, minor-major-misconduct (instigator, fighting), 11:26; Ohlund, TB, major (fighting), 11:26; Prust, NYR (elbowing), 14:59; Moore, TB (delay of game), 17:57; Ohlund, TB (delay of game), 18:26; Dubinsky, NYR (slashing), 20:00; Hedman, TB (slashing), 20:00.
Shots on Goal—N.Y. Rangers 5-2-13—20. Tampa Bay 11-14-9—34.
Power-play opportunities—N.Y. Rangers 1 of 4; Tampa Bay 3 of 6.
Goalies—N.Y. Rangers, Lundqvist 7-8-1 (34 shots-29 saves). Tampa Bay, Smith 8-3-0 (20-17).
Referees—Rob Martell, Dean Morton. Linesmen—Derek Nansen, David Brisebois.