In the first meeting of their former teams, give the edge to Tampa Bay's Ryan Callahan over the Rangers' Martin St. Louis.
Callahan scored twice, and superstar center Steven Stamkos, with a superb goal and two assists, dazzled and deked Henrik Lundqvist and the Rangers, 5-1, at the Garden Monday night.
Coach Alain Vigneault said except for early in the first and second periods, everything else "was a total disaster.''
St. Louis agreed.
"You know you're not going to win every game,'' he said. "You can live with yourself losing a game when you played the right way. I don't know how we can live with that one."
Callahan captained the Rangers for three seasons but turned down a six-year, $36-million offer because it didn't include a no-trade clause. The Rangers sent him to the Lightning in March with two draft picks in exchange for St. Louis.
Callahan was booed when he touched the puck on his second shift. But he received a nice ovation at 6:17, when a "Thanks for the Memories" collage of the three former Rangers, including Anton Stralman and Brian Boyle, was shown.
The Lightning (13-4-2, 8-1-1 in the last 10) seemed to skate on another level than the Rangers. Stamkos danced around Carl Hagelin on the left side and Dan Girardi, down on the ice, to feed Callahan at the opposite post for a power-play goal and a 2-0 lead at 14:20 of the first.
With the score 4-1, Stamkos took on Girardi and Marc Staal separately behind the net before feeding Callahan alone in front. Lundqvist lunged and Callahan scored easily at 17:09.
St. Louis was credited with a goal when his shot was deflected past Ben Bishop by defenseman Jason Garrison on a power play at :32 of the second. Then Stamkos went to work again.
On a breakaway after a terrible neutral-zone pass by Rick Nash, Valtteri Filppula sprung Stamkos. He feinted Lundqvist to the ice on a backhand move, quickly shifted to his forehand and left the goalie flailing on his 12th goal for a 3-1 lead.
Alex Killorn, who shoved Lundqvist out of the way on a disallowed goal at 15:51, then scored as a trailer. He snapped a pass from Tyler Johnson at 18:42 of the second, virtually assuring that the Rangers (7-7-4) would not face their third consecutive overtime and shootout.
The struggling Rangers had a season-low 16 shots on net. They have only one regulation victory and one overtime win in the last nine games (2-3-4).
Vigneault was particularly irritated. "We made it easy for the opposition, their breakouts and everything in between,'' he said. "We definitely have to find a solution to it, because we are a .500 hockey team right now . . . .500 doesn't get you into the playoffs.''
In the first, Nikita Kucherov was sprung for a breakaway shot. A falling Lundqvist got a piece of it but the puck bounced between his pads at 6:50 for a 1-0 lead. After St. Louis made it 2-1, the Rangers mustered no shots on a short five-on-three. The Lightning killed off the rest of the five-on-four.
In their collective malaise, the Rangers rarely tested the 6-7 Bishop (15 saves, 13-2-2). St. Louis was minus-4; Nash and Derick Brassard minus-3 each.
"We just watched them play,'' St. Louis said. "Everyone has to be better. It starts with the guys logging a lot of minutes, me included.''