The New York Rangers certainly looked like a different team in their first game without captain Ryan Callahan. They will try to get back on track Saturday evening against the Tampa Bay Lightning in the first of two straight on the road.
The Rangers won the first two of a three-game homestand, outscoring Toronto and Philadelphia by a 7-3 margin. However, the victory over the Flyers on Tuesday was costly as Callahan suffered a left shoulder subluxation that is expected to sideline the forward for 10-to-14 days.
New York closed out its residency on Thursday and could not generate any offense in a 3-0 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
"It wasn't the game we wanted to follow up a couple of wins with, that's for sure," said New York defenseman Dan Girardi, whose club had won three of four but lost its sixth straight to the Pens.
Henrik Lundqvist registered 26 saves in defeat, while New York was outshot 11-6 in the first period and went 0-for-4 on the power play in the game.
"We were kind of playing too tentative, I think," said Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh. "We weren't playing with that aggressive mindset we had the last two games."
The Lightning have certainly had the right mindset at home this season as they are a perfect 5-0 in Tampa and will try to wrap a five-game residency on Saturday without a loss.
Tampa Bay leads the NHL with 37 goals, an average of 5.3 per game, and has netted at least five goals in each game at home this season. It set a season high for goals in a game on Friday, routing the Winnipeg Jets 8-3.
Rookie Cory Conacher scored twice and had an assist, giving him five goals and 12 points over his first seven NHL games. Steven Stamkos and Vincent Lecavalier each had a goal and two assists, with Stamkos having notched a point in every game this season. He has five goals and nine assists in that span.
"Another good game for our team," Conacher remarked. "It's just one of those games where we had the lead and our power play was outstanding tonight and our weapons came out to play.
Teddy Purcell and Benoit Pouliot added a goal and an assist apiece for the Lightning, who have won five straight. Netminder Anders Lindback added an assist while notching 26 saves in the victory.
Though these two clubs split four meetings last season, the Lightning are 6-1-1 in the past eight encounters, with five of those games going past regulation.
Tampa Bay has won three of the last four played at home in this series.