NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Thursday, November 19, 2015, 10:23 PM
Tampa Bay’s Nikita Kucherov sends Keith Yandle crashing into the boards.
TAMPA – The Rangers had to lose some time, but anywhere but here – and any way other than this – especially when they were on the cusp of history.
Thursday night’s gut-wrenching 2-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning, the team that eliminated them in last season’s Eastern Conference finals, snapped the Rangers’ winning streak at nine games.
Dominic Moore scored the dramatic game-tying goal at 13:43 of the third period, but Lightning forward Valtteri Filppula answered with a back-breaking shorthanded goal at 18:55 on a two-on-rush for the win.
The Rangers fell one victory short, therefore, of tying the franchise record 10-game winning streak, held by the 1939-40 Stanley Cup winning Rangers and Rod Gilbert’s 1972-73 crew. Alain Vigneault’s Blueshirts (14-3-2, 30 points) remain in first place in the Eastern Conference but lost in regulation for the first time since their last regulation loss, a 3-0 defeat in Montreal on Oct. 15.
Dominic Moore’s third-period goal gives the Rangers hope, but it wasn’t meant to be Thursday night.
They had gone 11-0-2 in their previous13 games, but on Thursday night, last spring’s Ranger killer, Tampa forward Alex Killorn, scored at 14:47 of the first period on a 36-foot wrist shot off a Keith Yandle turnover, and Lightning goalie Ben Bishop outdueled Henrik Lundqvist for the injury-riddled Lightning (9-9-3, 21 points), including a penalty shot stop on Kreider in the third period.
With Moore’s goal, 17 of the 20 skaters on the Rangers roster have at least one goal in their last 14 games. The only three who haven’t scored are the players who go in and out of the lineup: Dan Boyle and Thursday’s healthy scratches Emerson Etem and Dylan McIlrath.
The Rangers immediately planned to fly to Fort Lauderdale, where they will wrap up a two-game road trip to Florida against the Panthers on Saturday night.
Vigneault said pregame that he and his staff did not speak to the players about their chance to tie the franchise’s record 10-game winning streak Thursday night. He said the focus was on X’s and O’s.
“Not from us,” Vigneault said pregame. “We had a meeting this morning strictly about things we needed to do better for tonight’s game against them. It hasn’t come from the coaches. We’re on a one-game performance and analyze the game and move onto the next mentality, and that hasn’t changed.”
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