TAMPA, Fla. — Chris Kreider didn’t mince words on Thursday night after the Rangers were blown out of Amalie Arena in a 9-3 loss to the Lightning. Tampa Bay scored four goals before the seven-minute mark of the first period and four more in the second.
“They get up early and they pop a few and we just came apart at the seams,” Kreider said. “That’s got to change in a hurry. You’ve got to buckle down and play determined hockey when stuff like that happens. It shouldn’t impact how we play, and for some reason, it has a large impact on the group.
“Four goals in the first six or seven minutes — there’s got to be a response. And it can’t be the same two or three guys going out and trying to hit and trying to fight and trying to get the group going. Everyone’s got to be collectively taking that extra step, especially against a team like that, taking that extra step.”
After the game, Rangers coach David Quinn took the extra step of canceling Friday’s scheduled practice before Saturday night’s road game against the Panthers.
The Rangers didn’t respond well to getting kicked around early by the Lightning. How will they respond against a tough Florida team?
“We’ve got to dust ourselves off and be ready to play on Saturday,” Quinn said. “Really, at the end of the day, that’s what it’s about. We’ve played some pretty good hockey up to this point. We’ve got to move past this. Maybe we weren’t able to stem the tide during the course of the game, but we’ve got to do it in between games and be ready to play Saturday.”
Operating with only one extra man because of injuries, Quinn was forced to give some players more minutes than he wanted once the game got out of hand. He replaced goalie Alexandar Georgiev with Henrik Lundqvist after the initial four-goal onslaught and then went back to Georgiev to start the third period after the Lightning scored four more in the second.
“Listen, they got four in the first and four in the second,” Quinn said. “You get Georgie in there and Hank’s going to play on Saturday. I don’t like doing it, but that was the best thing to do.”
Leading 1-0, the Lightning took advantage of an early five-on-three situation, scoring within five seconds and again with the Rangers a man down. The Rangers didn’t agree with the penalties, especially the second one, which was a slashing call on Tony DeAngelo.
“We hit some adversity, obviously, early in the game,” Kreider said. “A big part of our pre-scout is don’t take penalties against them. You can prepare to kill as much as you want, but they’ve got a very good power play, and if you don’t stay out of the box, that’s what’s going to happen over the course of the game.”
Said Quinn: “Obviously, we get the five-on-three and that just really opened the floodgates. Whether I agree with the call or not, it did put us down five-on-three. It may sound crazy when you lose 9-3, [but] if it’s 1-0 and you’re able to keep playing, maybe the whole game takes on a different dynamic. But I don’t think so with the way they came out ready to play and we didn’t.”