TAMPA, Fla. - Rangers coach Alain Vigneault didn't pull any punches, even though it appears he thinks his team did in a 5-0 loss to the Lightning at the Tampa Bay Times Forum Monday night.
Vigneault called the loss "a big no-hitter" -- as in the lack of hits his players put on the Lightning.
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Tampa Bay honored star Martin St. Louis before the game for becoming the 286th man to play in 1,000 NHL games. St. Louis had two goals and an assist and didn't draw enough attention from the Rangers to suit Vigneault.
"Obviously, it was a sort of Martin St. Louis lovefest out there," Vigneault said. "Nobody touched a soul, and especially not him."
The Lightning came out flying, scoring twice in the first 3:10, and Vigneault pulled Henrik Lundqvist with the Rangers trailing 4-0 after two periods.
"It had nothing to do with him," Vigneault said. "We didn't even give him a goal. Just to change the momentum a little bit."
The Rangers (12-12-0) could have been due for a setback after six straight road victories, including the first two games of this five-game holiday sojourn.
The Rangers had given up two or fewer goals in six straight games. Tampa Bay (15-8-1) was coming off an 0-3-1 road trip in which it was outscored 17-6 and had the emotion of the St. Louis ceremony, which included an appearance by current Ranger Brad Richards and a taped tribute from former Lightning and Rangers coach John Tortorella.
Lundqvist, who made 41 saves in his last outing in a 3-2 victory Thursday in Dallas, quickly fell behind 2-0 Monday night.
Nikita Kucherov scored his first goal in his first NHL game 2:12 into the contest with a shot past a screened Lundqvist.
Seconds later, the Rangers' Derek Dorsett dropped the gloves with Tampa Bay's Pierre-Cedric Labrie. It was a clear victory for Labrie and the second time in two games that Dorsett has been knocked down during a fight.
St. Louis made it 2-0 by getting past Marc Staal, skating in alone on Lundqvist and scoring at 3:10.
"We didn't play that bad," Lundqvist said. "We made a few mistakes and they made us pay for it. I wasn't able to come up with the saves there. I think Marty had a great night. To stop him on a breakaway -- I think he's one of the best guys in the league. For me, I need to have better timing."
The Rangers actually outshot the Lightning 37-25, but goalie Ben Bishop kept them off the board with a pair of super saves late in the opening period and the Lightning killed off a key five-on-three in the second.
St. Louis scored his second goal 3:12 into the second to make it 3-0. Again, he slipped past Rangers defenders and swooped in alone on Lundqvist.
Hard-working Rick Nash drew a pair of penalties after that, giving the Rangers a five-on-three for 1:02. But they were unable to generate any heat on Bishop and ended up on the penalty kill themselves when Staal went off for interference at 9:01.
Teddy Purcell beat Lundqvist high glove-side with 3:08 left in the period to make it 4-0 and then slipped a garbage-time goal past Cam Talbot at 18:59 of the third. Purcell also had an assist.