TAMPA, Fla. - Nate Thompson scored 19 seconds into overtime as the Lightning beat the Rangers, 2-1, last night. The former Islander scored on the doorstep after taking a pass from from Dana Tyrell, who had scored the other Lightning goal in the first period.
The winner came suddenly. Marian Gaborik scored with 45.6 seconds left in regulation to tie it at 1. With Henrik Lundqvist (31 saves) pulled for an extra skater, Gaborik was left alone in front and buried his 11th of the season, on Dan Girardi's pass from the corner. It was Gaborik's first of the season outside of the Garden and Nassau Coliseum.
Until then, rookie goaltender Cedrick Desjardins and a defensive blanket by the Lightning was too much for the Blueshirts at the St. Pete Times Forum.
Until the third period, the Rangers, 8-3-1 in December, largely played as if they were still sluggish from New Year's Eve, but Lundqvist kept this one close. At 13:03 of the first, Tyrell scored on a two-on-one when, cutting in to the net from the right side, he lost control of the puck but it slid under a surprised Lundqvist, who otherwise put on a show.
The Lightning's big guns, Steven Stamkos, Martin St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier, who had 12 of the team's 14 goals in the last five games, were kept off the board, but the Rangers couldn't solve the surprising rookie in net for the Lightning.
Mats Zuccarello, replacing Ryan Callahan, who has been out for seven games with a broken hand, had the best opportunity in the second period, firing a rebound of Artem Anisimov's shot from the right side, but he was stopped by the pad of a diving Desjardins. In the third, Desjardins snagged Brandon Prust's shot from the left of the slot with his glove.
At 1:14 of the third, Artem Anisimov was called for holding and it was the third power play for the Lightning, who are No. 2 in the league at home with the man advantage, and for the third time, they were denied.
In the last game of 2010, the Devils outshot the Rangers 16-5 in the first period. "If we start the way we did in New Jersey, we're done," Rangers coach John Tortorella warned before the game. But that's what happened. The quicker Lightning, who are in second place in the Eastern Conference, pressured the Rangers in all zones and prevented them from mustering any scoring chances.
Clearly, the Rangers missed Callahan's physical play and energy and any semblance of sniper Gaborik's vintage game.
Only a couple breakups of odd-man rushes by Michael Rozsival and sharp saves by Lundqvist kept the score 1-0 in the first. Lundqvist had to thwart Tyrell's doorstep bid in the first minute, but Tyrell came through later.
Gaborik, outside of getting his stick on a St. Louis gimme and then scoring the tying goal himself, was mostly a non-factor. He finished with eight shot attempts, but only three were on goal. Three were blocked and two others missed the net.
Dubinsky led the team in shots on goal with six. Besides his assist on the tying goal, Girardi led the team in hits with five.