The Tampa Bay Lightning are looking to win their second in a row at Madison Square Garden, and lead the best team in the Eastern Conference 3-2 after two periods. The Bolts stopped a five-game losing streak in early December with a shootout victory at MSG, defeating the Rangers 3-2.
On Thursday, the NHL's leading scorer Steven Stamkos opened the scoring with his 36th goal of the year. Stammer took a feed from Brett Connolly and beat Martin Biron, who got the start in place of Henrik Lundqvist. It was Connolly's first point in two-and-half months. Stamkos broke away and with a Ranger defenseman draped on him, managed to get off a backhand that found the back of the net.
A back-and-forth second period finished with two unanswered goals from the Bolts. The Rangers tied it at 1-1 on the power play, as Ryan Callahan scored less than five minutes into the period. The man advantage came as a result of a questionable hooking call on Ryan Shannon. The Rangers then took a 2-1 lead less than a minute later when Derek Stepan scored his 11th of the season.
But the Lightning responded as captain Vincent LeCavalier answered just twenty seconds later to tie it up. Tampa would then re-take the lead on the power play, as Stamkos fed Bruno Gervais who converted the special teams score. Stamkos fired it from the corner as Gervais moved in from the point to a dead spot on the opposite side of the ice and fired away.
The Rangers put constant pressure on the Bolts as the period wound down, but Mathieu Garon managed to hold on and maintain the 3-2 lead with one period to play.
For more news, analysis, and discussion on Tampa Bay Lightning hockey, visit SB Nation's Lighting blog Raw Charge. For more on New York Rangers hockey, visit SB Nation's Rangers blog Blueshirt Banter. For all your hockey news, be sure to follow along at SB Nation's NHL hub.