48 hours after dropping Game 3 in overtime, the Rangers responded with a 5-1 win to even the Eastern Conference Final at two. The score line is a bit deceiving, as the Rangers were outplayed at even strength by a large margin. It was a good night for the Rangers’ big names; not only did Rick Nash score twice and add an assist, Martin St.Louis got his first goal of the playoffs, and Keith Yandle tallied a goal and two assists. Henrik Lundqvist also bounced back with a strong 38 save performance.
The Rangers lost Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals by a 6-5 score.
The Rangers got an early powerplay 26 seconds into the game when Cedric Paquette capped off a post-whistle shoving match with a gloved to Jesper Fast’s face, resulting in a roughing penalty.
The Rangers produced their usual playoff output of two goals in Game 2, but at the other end they gave up a bunch of Tampa Bay goals, including three from Tyler Johnson, en route to a disappointing 6-2 defeat.
Special teams ruled the night; six of the game’s eight goals came at less than full strength, and one of the even strength goals came just seconds after an expired penalty.
Power play goals from Chris Kreider and Derek Stepan kept the Rangers within striking distance into the third, but Tampa’s high-end offensive weapons shone through on numerous good looks to pull away.
Up 1-0 for the third straight series, the Rangers look to take their first 2-0 series lead of the 2015 playoffs. Last year, the third time was the charm for the Rangers as they grabbed a 2-0 lead in the Conference Finals against Montreal after failing to do so against Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.
The Rangers won game 1 by a 2-1 score after a fortunate bounce of Dom Moore’s knee. Though the game decider was fortunate, it was a strong overall game from the Rangers. They had a 54-37 edge in total shot attempts at 5-on-5, and an 18-13 edge in scoring chances.
After facing common playoff opponents in the Penguins and Capitals, the Rangers take on a team they have never faced in postseason play. But that’s not to say there’s no familiarity in the series. Prior to this season, players on the current Lightning roster had played 80 playoff games with the Lightning and 172 playoff games with the Rangers. The 172 games is composed completely from the Ranger careers of Ryan Callahan, Brian Boyle and Anton Stralman. Stralman and Boyle were a part of the Rangers’ deep playoff runs in 2012 and 2014, and Callahan was in playoff games for the Rangers as early as 2006-07.
The familiarity isn’t strictly one way, however. Martin St. Louis decorated his trophy room during his 13-year Lightning career. The 2004 Hart Trophy winner’s current form is a far cry from a player the Lightning would recognize, however. Through 12 playoff games, St. Louis has 0 goals and 4 assists and has been a consistent drain on possession. St. Louis saw significantly less ice time than Derick Brassard and Rick Nash, his most common linemates, in Game 7 against Washington. It will be interesting to see how St. Louis is used going forward.
The Rangers won Game 7 in overtime by a 2-1 score. Derek Stepan scored the overtime winner 11:24 into the first overtime period. Henrik Lundqvist stopped 35 of 36 games.
After dominating the first periods for much of the series, the Rangers were outplayed in the first period tonight. Alex Ovechkin opened the scoring after Ryan McDonagh got caught up high in the zone and didn’t recover, leaving him some space to fire the puck over Lundqvist’s glove. After a period, the Capitals led in shots on goal 15-10.