NHL Game Night: 3-2-12 Rangers at Lightning

Belief is growing.

TB-4 (OT)

Mathieu Garon allowed 3 goals on 19 shots for the win.

First Period
NYR Anisimov (13), (McDonagh), 10:09

Second Period
NYR Gaborik (31), (Stepan, Richards)(PP), 2:43
TB Pyatt (7), (Connolly, Lee), 7:09

Third Period
TB Purcell (18), (St. Louis, Stamkos), 3:37
TB Stamkos (45), (Lee, Purcell), 10:17
NYR Dubinsky (7), (Gaborik, Stralman), 16:33

TB Malone (11), (Purcell, Brewer), 1:58

Ryan Malone and Steven Stamkos were the game's first and second stars. Who has two thumbs and a fantasy team that cleaned up in this game? This guy! (I've got Stamkos, Purcell, Gaborik, and Stepan. Yes, you should be envious.)

The Lightning had some moments where they got hemmed in their own zone tonight, but this new group of d-men seems much more mobile and much more positionally sound than the pre-deadline edition. They're more capable of riding out surges and they helped stake the Lightning to a nice 31-19 shots advantage tonight against the conference's top team. They deserved this win tonight, and they're now just 4 points out of the last playoff spot (and 6 back in the division). A win tomorrow night in Carolina would put them no worse than 2 points out of 8th place, and possibly also 4 back in the division. Tomorrow night is THE game, and I've got a feeling this group of players will be flying tomorrow. They've got the scent of blood in the water. I just wish Vinny Lecavalier and Victor Hedman were healthy for this run, because if they were the Lightning might well be worth betting on making it in after tonight's game.

Brian Lee still doesn't fully know Guy Boucher's system, but you can already tell that Steve Yzerman robbed Ottawa in that deal. I might've done a little cartwheel when I saw the press release for the trade, because this guy was expected to be a stud righty-shot 2-way defenseman when he was drafted in the top-10 by the Senators. Nothing against Gilroy, who is pretty athletic in his own right, but this guy is a potential thoroughbred. I was shocked Ottawa gave up on him. He's mobile. He sticks his nose in. And, what I really like and I think even the Lightning may not have fully appreciated, this guy is cooler than Billy Dee Williams in the offensive zone. You saw poise and command tonight from the point from Lee, and it led to 2 assists. I love that pick up. This guy's got a chance to be a permanent fixture for the Lightning, whether he plays on the top pair with Hedman or the second pair in the future.

Keith Aulie was +1 with 2 penalty minutes, 3 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 10:39 in his Lightning debut. It was too small a sample set of minutes to really say much one way or the another except: #3? Man, they gave you Eric Charron's number? What did you do to get the equipment guy that mad at you already? They gave that number to Sergey Gusev and by the time it was through with him he never played another NHL game. Be afraid, Aulie. Be very afraid. That digit is cursed.

Brandon Segal was -1 with 1 shot in 4:51.

J.T. Wyman had 1 blocked shot in 12:12.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.