NEW YORK (AP) — The Tampa Bay Lightning took a step back in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals against the New York Rangers.
Something was missing in their 2-1 loss to the Rangers on Dominic Moore’s late goal.
Maybe, the Lightning didn’t shoot enough. Steven Stamkos’ line never got going, and the Rangers did the little things that put them up in the best-of-7 series. They went to the net and got two not-so-pretty-goals with Moore’s bouncing into the net off his skate with 2:25 to play.
“There were big spurts in the game where we had them hemmed in,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “I don’t think we shot the puck enough. I don’t think we attempted enough shots. What got us through the Montreal series is not what we did tonight in some parts of the game. What got Montreal back in the series was what we did for big parts of the game tonight.”
The Lightning jumped to a 3-0 series lead against the Canadiens, lost the next two and then closed out the series on Tuesday night.
This time, they are going to have to fight back with Game 2 scheduled Monday night at Madison Square Garden.
“We gave ourselves a chance,” said Stamkos, who was limited to one shot. “We got a little better as the game went on, not the start we wanted. But hopefully, we got our feet wet a little tonight and we know what to expect.”
The Lightning took only 24 shots in the game at Henrik Lundqvist and only attempted 48. Their goal came on a third-period power play by Ondrej Palat.
“I don’t think we tested Lundqvist as much as we should have,” Stamkos said. “Not a lot of quality shots, not a lot of shots, period. We have to find a way to be better and generate more. We can’t expect to put a couple past a goalie of that caliber with the minimal chances we had tonight.”
Moore’s game winner came 30 seconds after he finished serving a penalty for tripping former Rangers teammate Anton Stralman.
New York got an odd-man rush after the power play ended and Kevin Hayes ended up with the puck in the left corner. He thought about taking a bad-angle shot but fired it through the crease.
Moore came out from behind the net, got position on Stralman and had the puck hit off his skate and go into the net for his first goal of the postseason.
“They throw it at the net and it hits off his leg and it goes in, so it’s one of those things you can’t do much about,” said goaltender Ben Bishop after losing to the Rangers for the first time in nine games. “But you’ve got to look at the way we got better as the game went on.”
Stralman also left the Lightning improved after a slow first period.
“We definitely need to move the puck a little faster, get in on the forecheck, shoot a lot more pucks,” he said. “The game winning goal is a perfect example, It’s not even a shot. Judt a funnel to the net and it bounced in.”
Derek Stepan scored the Rangers’ first goal late in the second period in close. It was fluky. Chris Kreider’s shot was blocked by Tampa Bay and it went to Stepan for a shot in close.
The postseason series is the first between the teams and it has drawn interest because of the trade that sent Martin St. Louis to New York for Ryan Callahan in an exchange of captains last year.
Neither did much in the game, although Callahan played despite having an appendectomy on Monday.
NOTES: Former Rangers C Brian Boyle was scratched with an undisclosed injury. His status is day to day. … Callahan skated on the third line with Jonathan Marchessault and Cedric Paquette.
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