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The Tampa Bay Lightning Make Applesauce: A Recap of a Potential Playoff Preview


Courtesy of Fox 13 Tampa Bay


Watching a hockey game is an incredible experience. It is one thing to watch a game on TV, but it is another matter to go see one in person. Thousands of fans unite to cheer for their teams and have a night filled with competition and fun. Last Thursday, the Tampa Bay Lightning took on their Metropolitan Division rivals, the New York Rangers in a potential playoff preview. The game was an unforgettable experience that kept fans on the edge of their seats the entire time and reminded fans that the whole hockey game experience is unforgettable.


The atmosphere at this hockey game was electric. The Lightning hosted the Rangers in front of a sold-out crowd. Even though the game was hosted in Tampa, there seemed to be an equal ratio of Rangers fans to Lightning fans. The Rangers have an intensely passionate fanbase that is extremely loyal to their team, and though the Lightning are based out of Florida, their die-hard fans are ready to rally around them rain or shine. The excitement of both fanbases played a huge role in both teams’ stellar performances and helped to keep the game fun and entertaining.


Courtesy of Sportspromedia.com/ Getty Images


No one doubted that this game was going to be good. The Lightning and the Rangers have a rivalry that goes back to the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Both teams were set to play against each other in the Eastern Conference Finals, which is the round that determines which team in the Eastern Conference will move on to the Stanley Cup Finals. The Rangers dominated early in the series, quickly over-powering the Lightning with two back-to-back wins, bringing them to a 2-0 lead. However, the Lightning showed that they had more grit than they let on, and went on to win the next four games in a row: earning them the title of Eastern Conference Champions and a coveted spot in the Stanley Cup Finals. Every time the teams have played each other since then, neither players nor fans have forgotten that series. Both teams entered last Thursday’s game hungry to win.


Courtesy of Wendell Hughes- USA Today Sports


The Rangers went into last Thursday’s game leading the Metropolitan Division. They were also ranked third in the Eastern Conference and fourth in the league. The Rangers play with a hybrid style, alternating between playing man-to-man and zone. With veteran players Artemi Panarin, Vincent Trocheck, and Chris Kreider leading the team in points and scoring, and unmatched line combinations and defensive pairings, the Rangers were ready to dominate on the ice.


Courtesy of Dirk Shadd- Tampa Bay Times


The Lightning went into last Thursday’s game ranked fourth in the Atlantic Division and sitting in a playoff wildcard spot. Though the Lightning have had a rocky season, they had started to find their footing again with a big win over the Flyers the game prior; they were not going to let the Rangers stop their momentum. Additionally, the recent additions of Anthony Duclair and Matt Dumba to the roster added a new level of depth that was bound to be evident in the game. The Lightning were ready to show to the league that they were not a team to be slept on going into the postseason.


Courtesy of Forbes/ Getty Images


The first period of the game started out with both Andrei Vasilevskiy and Igor Shesterkin making incredible glove saves on every scoring attempt. However, soon it was evident that the Rangers were controlling the game on the offensive end. Towards the end of the period, the Rangers were starting to find the cracks in the Lightning’s system to sneak through. The Rangers’ Artemi Panarin opened up scoring for the game with an assist from Vincent Trochek. A few minutes later, the Rangers scored again, with Mika Zibanejad assisting Braden Schneider. At the end of the first period, the Rangers were leading 2-0. 


The game started to make a slight turn in the second period as the Lightning began to find their footing. The Lightning’s Brayden Point opened up the scoring with an assist from Nikita Kucherov. The goal was Point’s 34th goal of the season. Not long after, Lightning newcomer Anthony Duclair scored with assists from Point and Kucherov. The goal was Duclair’s 18th goal of the season. At the end of the second period, the game was tied, which seemed to awaken the fans’ excitement.


Courtesy of ESPN


In the third period, the action really started to pick up. Jack Roslovic opened up the scoring for the period with an assist from Panarin, propelling the Rangers ahead. However, the Lightning were quick to retaliate as Point scored again, with assists from Kucherov and Victor Hedman. The game was tied once more. As the minutes ticked on, the Lightning began to control the game. Captain Steven Stamkos scored on the power play with assists from Point and Anthony Cirelli, putting the Lightning in the lead. That goal was Stamkos’ 540th NHL career goal and his 25th of the season. Not long after, Point scored for the third time with assists from Kucherov and Hedman. That goal gave Point his third hat trick of the season and the fourth in his NHL career. At the end of the period, the Rangers removed Shesterkin from the net, which allowed Kucherov to score an empty net goal on the breakaway. The Lighting ended up winning the game 6-3.

The Lightning-Rangers game last Thursday night showcased everything special about the hockey experience. The excitement of the rivalry and the energy of the fans contributed to the electricity of the environment. Stellar plays from both teams kept fans on the edge of their seats the whole time. Exhilarating games like this one get fans excited about hockey and what the postseason around the corner holds. 


Edited by Giana Robertaccio

Social Media Content Created by Caroline McGuinness








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