It doesn’t matter that they backed into playoffs. The way things are going for the Tampa Bay Lightning, they’re happy to be there at all.
Tampa Bay blew a two-goal lead and lost to the New York Rangers Tuesday night, but clinched a post-season berth when the Boston Bruins lost to the Carolina Panthers in a shootout.
The Bolts took a 2-0 lead on goals by Vlad Namestnikov and Brian Boyle. But the Rangers charged back to beat a depleted Tampa Bay lineup, 3-2. Besides Steven Stamkos and Anton Stralman, the Lightning played without Victor Hedman and Ryan Callahan. There is no guarantee that either Hedman or Callahan will play in the final two regular-season games.
“It’s good that we are in, but we should have won that game,’’ said Boyle, who scored his second power-play goal in the past three games. “We are not thrilled about the outcome tonight. But step one was to make the playoffs.’’
The Florida Panthers clinched the Atlantic Division with the Lightning loss.