In an entertaining pre-Christmas show at Madison Square Garden, Ryan Malone scored in the 11th round of an amazing shootout - off the crossbar over Henrik Lundqvist - to give the Tampa Bay Lightning a 4-3 victory over the Rangers last night.
Lundqvist and Tampa Bay goaltender Dan Ellis battled in the extra session, allowing only two goals each until Malone's winner.
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Rookie Derek Stepan pulled the Rangers back from a 3-2 deficit at 11:18 of the third period on a tuck-in from behind the left post after his close-in backhander was stopped by Ellis. Matt Gilroy gloved a clearing attempt down at the left point and sent it hard around to Brandon Dubinsky on the right boards, who found Stepan in front with a hard pass for this 10th goal. Stepan has scored in each of the last three games.
"I knew that I was going to try to go around him. It was the only play I had," Stepan said. "Other than a couple breakdowns, it was exactly the way we wanted to play."
Two days before Christmas, things looked pretty cheerful for the Rangers when Ruslan Fedotenko and Alex Frolov scored 12 seconds apart midway through the first period for a 2-1 lead.
Fedotenko's shot from the left circle went past Ellis' stick at 11:16 and Frolov converted a rebound of Artem Anisimov's shot in a scramble in front at 11:28.
But Steven Stamkos scored his 27th of the season with 1:06 left in the second to tie it, and although the Rangers dominated for most of the second period, Vinny Lecavalier tipped in Pavel Kubina's bad- angle shot for a 3-2 Lightning edge. It was just the 11th shot for Tampa Bay.
The first two Lightning goals came off terrible turnovers by Rangers defensemen. Martin St. Louis snagged Michal Rozsival's poor pass and sailed in to beat Lundqvist high on the stick side at the two-minute mark of the first. St. Louis grabbed Dan Girardi's miscue and sent a pass to Stamkos for his quick shot.
With a 3-2 lead, Tampa Bay coach Guy Boucher went a little more conservative, sending in just one forechecker.
Dubinsky, who had hit the post in the first, was set up by Zuccarello from the right circle, but backhanded a shot off Ellis' shoulder. Frolov drove down the middle on a breakaway, but Kubina, chasing from behind, dived and swung his stick to knock the puck away. Ellis then made close-in saves on Artem Anisimov and Chris Drury with slightly more than 11 minutes to play.
With 9:19 left in the third, Ellis bobbled Marc Staal's bid to tie it but covered up.
Zuccarello, who has 22 points in the last 20 games in the AHL, played 17:50, scored a nifty goal in the shootout, set up his teammates several times with passes and banged along the boards. It is possible that he still will be with the Rangers when the Islanders visit Monday night.