NHL Game Day: 2/27/11 Lightning at Rangers

It wasn't pretty, but the Lightning get back-to-back quality wins.


Dwayne Roloson allowed 1 goal on 23 shots for the victory. After languishing, record-wise, behind a bad Islanders club up until his trade to Tampa, Roloson is now just 1 game under the .500 mark at 18-19-2 for the season. He was 6-13-1 with the Islanders and is 12-6-1 with the Lightning.

First Period
05:04 TB St Louis (24), Downie (19)

Second Period
09:42 NYR Prust (10), McDonagh (5), Boyle (12)(SH)

Third Period
02:40 TB Lecavalier (15), St Louis (51), Purcell (25)(PP)

Martin St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier were the game's first and second stars. Now at 75 points, St. Louis has raced like a cheetah up the league leaders list and is now in 3rd, 3 points back of Steven Stamkos and 4 points back of Daniel Sedin. With the way he's turned on the jets, he might not be a bad bet to win his second NHL scoring title. Lecavalier, for his part, is now just 5 goals shy of his 11th straight 20 goal season. Recalling how he reacted when he got to 20 in a down 2001-2002 campaign, I know the 20 goal plateau is a big deal for Vinny, and I suspect you're going to see him go hard to get it with 20 games remaining in the regular season.

The Lightning sweep the season series against the Rangers. You know that has to burn John Tortorella up. The Lightning broke up a big winning streak by a Devils team that was feeling very good about itself and beat the Rangers today after New York smoked the Caps like a fine Hav-a-Tampa cigar, and no doubt was feeling pretty good about itself as well. That's not easy to accomplish, so that's the good news. The bad news is the Lightning's power play reverted back to being a terrible mess, with the exception of the 5-on-3 winner they converted. You can't go far in the playoffs if your power play doesn't have it together. The Lightning have all the weapons in the world to turn it around, and part of me thinks Boucher and the coaching staff may be hiding their best stuff until the playoffs when they'll start doing more through Stamkos again, but they stunk on toast today, and they won't go anywhere in the playoffs if things don't improve.

Tampa Bay re-opens their lead on Washington in the division to 5 points and hold 1 game in hand. They also moved to within 5 points of Philly for first in the conference after the Flyers stubbed their toe against Ottawa last night. The Lightning's schedule becomes pretty favorable after they get through the next week and a half. They draw Boston, Washington, and Chicago during that stretch, with New Jersey also playing well of late and Montreal looking like a solid playoff team. However, in the final 15 games, they get Ottawa (3 times), Florida (2 times), Toronto, the Islanders, and Buffalo, which would all miss the playoffs if they started today. They also get Carolina, which is clinging to 8th in the East, 3 more times. The conditions are favorable for the Lightning to close things out, and if they don't they only have themselves to blame.

And for the record, if you're asking me who I'd like to see the Lightning play in the first round, the Rangers scare the heck out of me despite the season sweep. They have goaltending, good coaching, and they work their bags off. I'd much rather see the Hurricanes or Canadiens in the opening round. The Lightning had to battle their rear ends off against the Rangers this year, even in a few games that were essentially blow-outs but where Torts wouldn't allow his club to lay down. They're dangerous.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.