Home Hockey Lightning Win Over Rangers Puts Tampa One Victory From Stanley Cup Finals

Lightning Win Over Rangers Puts Tampa One Victory From Stanley Cup Finals


Although they have been going through the two-time defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning, and although that they had wanted seven video games to advance from every of the primary two rounds of the playoffs, the Rangers all the time had a trump card of their pocket: Fortress Madison Sq. Backyard.

Even after shedding two video games in Tampa to permit the Lightning to tie the sequence, there was an unshakable sense of confidence in Rangerland coming into Recreation 5. In any case, the crew was 8-1 at dwelling within the playoffs, its solely loss coming in triple overtime within the very first sport towards the Pittsburgh Penguins.

So when the Lightning ended the magic with a 3-1 victory on the Backyard on Thursday evening, it was a hammer blow. And all of the extra irritating as a result of the important thing Tampa targets got here not fully from the facility trio of Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov and Ondrej Palat, but in addition from an unlikely defenseman taking a few low-percentage photographs.

The Rangers began the evening promisingly. Seemingly infused with power from their venerable area, they performed from the opening face-off with an authority and crispness lacking in Tampa. The tempo was quick, and the primary interval was free-flowing and penalty free.

Disquietingly for the Rangers, who clearly had the higher hand, it was additionally objective free. New York fired off eight photographs, and Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy saved all of them. His counterpart Igor Shesterkin was known as upon to avoid wasting simply three. And this got here from a Rangers crew that had been outshot, 153-127, within the first 4 video games.

The Lightning at occasions within the early going appeared much less just like the two-time defending champions and extra like a crew awed by the event. Each time (and there have been many) that there was a face-off within the Lightning finish, there was the sense that this might be the second the Rangers lastly broke by means of.

However dominance doesn’t depend except you rating a objective. The Rangers lastly acquired theirs at 10:29 of the second interval not from dominance, however virtually from happenstance. Defenseman Ryan Lindgren scored for his first level of the sequence and second objective of the playoffs by way of a speculative flick from close to the boards that possibly was meant for a deflection. As a substitute it went in.

But when New York anticipated that drawing first blood would crack the sport open, it was mistaken. A one-goal lead is a slender reed, even on the Backyard. Tampa Bay’s reply got here at 17:34 of the second, and it was one way or the other much more unlikely.

Defenseman Mikhail Sergachev scored his first objective of the playoffs. It too was unassisted: a excessive shot practically from the blue line that sailed waist-high previous a minimum of three Rangers in addition to Corey Perry of the Lightning camped within the crease, then most significantly Shesterkin, who may do nothing.

Apart from equalizing the rating, the guests had chipped away on the Rangers’ pre-eminence. After the second interval, the hole in photographs was gone, and each goalies had made precisely 15 saves on 16 photographs.

Within the frenetic third interval, each side narrowly didn’t capitalize on breakaways and opponents’ errors, and the strain led to a few pushing-and-shoving scrums as nicely.

With 1:50 to go, Tampa delivered the coup de grâce, improbably once more as Sergachev, from simply contained in the blue line, sent the puck through traffic and Palat deflected it dwelling. That sucked the life from the raucous Backyard devoted, who had already been gearing up for a number of overtimes, and basically ended the sport, although Tampa added an empty-net objective by Brandon Hagel.

A case could possibly be made that this sequence had tipped additional towards the Lightning with each sport. The Rangers have scored solely two targets of their final eight intervals of hockey.

Recreation 1 was successfully a romp, with the Rangers winning, 6-2, and the Lightning seeming rusty after every week off following their sweep of the Florida Panthers within the earlier spherical.

The Rangers gained Recreation 2 at dwelling, 3-2, and took a 2-0 lead in Recreation 3 in Tampa. However that was the high-water mark. Thirty seconds later, the Lightning scored and got here again to win 3-2. In Recreation 4, the Lightning dominated in a 4-1 victory. Immediately, the sequence was tied.

The Rangers have been relying on the house constructing and crowd on Thursday to reverse that pattern, seemingly as a lot as they have been relying on the likes of the 52-goal scorer Chris Kreider and Artemi Panarin, so typically one of the best gamers on the ice.

Kreider’s power-play prowess — he led the league in man-advantage targets — was restricted by the practically whistle-free sport. The Rangers have been known as for simply two in-game penalties and the Lightning one. (A postgame brouhaha — starring Steven Stamkos and Alexis Lafrenière — led to 6 extra that have been too late to affect the ultimate rating.)

“It was one of those games; it was a defensive battle,” mentioned Rangers coach Gerard Gallant, saying Shesterkin had been screened and never seen both the primary or second objective. “We played a sound hockey game. It’s tough to lose like that at the end, but it was a good hockey game. It could have went either way.”

The 12 months has been a hit for the Rangers, who’re coming off a tear-down and rebuild that had led them to overlook the playoffs the earlier 4 seasons, and a convention ultimate is overachievement. And regardless of the deflating loss, the Rangers will not be technically useless but.

The Rangers got here again from three-games-to-one down towards the Penguins, lastly successful in time beyond regulation in Recreation 7. They got here again twice towards the Hurricanes within the subsequent spherical, and won another Game 7.

Now down three-games-to-two once more, they want two straight wins. Worryingly, the primary of these on Saturday, should are available Tampa.

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