NEW YORK — Coach Jon Cooper made it clear Monday's game was more about the former Rangers than the Lightning's former captain.
The Marty St. Louis Show, after all, begins Nov. 26, when he comes back to Tampa.
But Cooper rallied his team around Ryan Callahan, Brian Boyle and Anton Stralman in their return to Madison Square Garden. The trio started, with Callahan and Boyle alternate captains. A few minutes in, a photo tribute on the JumboTron thanked them for the memories in New York.
The loudest ovation came for Callahan, the old Rangers captain, who showed the fans what they were missing by scoring two goals, including the winner, to help the Lightning to a 5-1 victory. St. Louis scored a goal but was a minus-4.
"If you could write it up before the game, that's pretty much how you'd like to write it up," Cooper said.
"I would have liked two of them (goals)," Boyle joked. "But yeah, that was perfect."
Callahan, who spent eight years in New York, said he had nervous excitement during warmups. He said he chuckled when the fans booed the first time he touched the puck.
But the scoreboard salute was special for the three ex-Rangers.
"Shows how classy they are," Callahan said.
"I had to play it cool on the bench,' " Boyle said. "That was really something."
"Totally unexpected," Stralman said. "But appreciated."
After Nikita Kucherov's first-period breakaway goal, Callahan scored on the power play, tapping a Steven Stamkos cross-crease pass into an open net after the captain deked two defenders.
"Stammer couldn't have set it up on a better platter for me," Callahan said. "That really calmed my nerves down."
St. Louis scored a power-play goal 32 seconds into the second to make it 2-1. But Tampa Bay killed a 5-on-3 power play minutes later to preserve the lead. "A turning point," Cooper said.
Stamkos got his 12th goal on a breakaway, set up by a Valtteri Filppula steal. And the Lightning (13-4-2) held New York to five third-period shots (16 overall).
"I couldn't be happier with how the other guys bought into this game," Stralman said. "They knew the importance of what this meant for me and Boyler and Cally."
"It made it a little bit extra special," Boyle said. "Everyone was pulling for us."
Callahan notched his second goal with three minutes left, on another feed from Stamkos.
"Can't say enough about Callahan," Cooper said. "So glad he's on our bench and not theirs."
First—1, Tampa Bay, Kucherov 7 (Johnson, Palat), 6:50. 2, Tampa Bay, Callahan 7 (Stamkos, Filppula), 14:20 (pp). Penalties—Staal, NYR (tripping), 13:36; Carle, TB (tripping), 19:20.
Second—3, N.Y. Rangers, St. Louis 7 (Brassard, Stepan), :32 (pp). 4, Tampa Bay, Stamkos 12 (Filppula), 14:08. 5, Tampa Bay, Killorn 3 (Johnson, Palat), 18:42. Penalties—Stamkos, TB (holding), :52; Killorn, TB (tripping), 2:20; Staal, NYR (high-sticking), 9:00.
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Third—6, Tampa Bay, Callahan 8 (Stamkos), 17:09. Penalties—D.Boyle, NYR (hooking), 10:22. Shots—Tampa Bay 7-13-10—30. N.Y. Rangers 5-6-5—16. Power plays—Tampa Bay 1 of 3; N.Y. Rangers 1 of 3. Goalies—Tampa Bay, Bishop 11-2-2 (16 shots-15 saves). N.Y. Rangers, Lundqvist 7-5-3 (30-25). A—18,006 (18,006). T—2:21.