NHL Playoffs: Lightning one win from third straight Final, beat Rangers 3-1

nhl playoffs lightning
Jun 9, 2022; New York, New York, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Ondrej Palat (18) celebrates his game winning goal against the New York Rangers with teammates during the third period of game five of the Eastern Conference Final of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The NHL Playoffs Eastern Conference Final has seen a complete momentum shift since Game 2 as the Tampa Bay Lightning have rattled off three straight wins.

By beating the New York Rangers 3-1 in Game 5 on Thursday night, the Lightning are now on win away from their third straight Stanley Cup Final appearance.

Meanwhile, the Rangers only have themselves to blame relinquishing leads in both Games 3 and 5. They will now once again have to stave off elimination on Saturday night at Amalie Arena if they hope to continue their season.

It’s a tall task with Tampa being 6-1 at home in the playoffs and New York is only 2-7 away from the Garden. However, the Rangers are also 5-0 this postseason when facing elimination.

Can they do it again? The answer will come this weekend.

NHL Playoffs: Lightning 3 vs Rangers 1

nhl playoffs
Jun 9, 2022; New York, New York, USA; New York Rangers and Tampa Bay Lightning players fight during the third period of game five of the Eastern Conference Final of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Ryan Lindgren got the Rangers on the board first midway through the second period. Tyler Motte’s forecheck caused a turnover that the defenseman converted with a quick snapshot over Andrei Vasilevskiy’s right shoulder.

However, a little over 7 minutes later, Mikhail Sergachev floated a shot at a crowded crease that Igor Shesterkin simply did not see to tie it a 1 after two periods.

“That one went in and it’s a good feeling,” Sergachev said. “I haven’t scored a lot of goals, but it definitely felt great.”

The Rangers had plenty of chances in the third period, but it was either a big Vasilevskiy save or a whiff that kept them from taking the lead. Ryan Strome’s miss on a wide open net off a feed from Andrew Copp stands out as a prime of example of their offensive struggles in this series.

Ondrej Palat’s tip of a Sergachev shot with 1:50 remaining in regulation was the devastating blow. Once again, Tampa took Shesterkin’s eyes away by overloading the front of the net. It’s an area the Rangers must address in Game 6 if they hope to get back to the Garden for Game 7 next Tuesday.

Brandon Hagel’s empty-netter sealed the deal with 59 remaining.

“It’s tough tonight,” New York coach Gerard Gallant said. “It’s a tough night, there’s no doubt. But tomorrow we’ll get on the airplane and we’ll be ready to go play a game in Tampa Bay. It’ll be a battle. They’re a good hockey team. That’s why they’re the Stanley Cup champs. We’re going to have to go in there and play our best game and win a game to give ourselves a chance for Game 7 back here.”

NHL.com