NHL Playoffs: Rangers blowout Bolts to open series
The NHL Playoffs saw a dominant performance by the New York Rangers to open the Eastern Conference Finals on Wednesday night.
Before the puck dropped two narratives had formed. For the Tampa Bay Lightning it was about rest versus rust and for the Rangers it was about having to face a number one goalie for the first time this postseason.
After a 6-2 win by the Blueshirts at Madison Square Garden, the Bolts were labeled as rusty and Andrei Vasilevskiy fared no better than Carolina’s Antti Raanta or Pittsburgh’s Louis Domingue.
NHL Playoffs: Rangers 6 vs Lightning 2
It took just 1:11 for the Rangers to get on the board as Chris Kreider all alone in the slot snapped the first shot of the game over the blocker of Vasilevskiy.
Steven Stamkos would tie it with a blast of his own, but the Blueshirts came out in the second period with an extra step.
Frank Vatrano would give the Rangers a 2-1 lead that was answered right back less than a minute later by Ondrej Palat. However, the Rangers forecheck and down low cycle proved to be too much with the Kid Line, led by Filip Chytil scoring twice to open a 4-2 lead heading into the third period.
The 22 year-old Chytil now has five goals in last three games.
“Fil’s a good kid,” Rangers coach Gerard Gallant said. “He worked hard, he competes hard and he deserves what he’s getting right now. He’s stepped his game up. He knows it, everybody knows it and that is exactly what we need from him.”
If the Lightning had any thoughts of a comeback that ended when Artemi Panarin snapped one by Vasilevskiy just 30 seconds into the final frame.
The Lightning’s goaltender had a rough regular-season against the Rangers going 0-2 with a 3.03 GAA and an .875 SV%. He ended Game 1 with just 28 saves on 34 shots and a .824 SV%.
Mika Zibanejad would cap the scoring with a power play tally and Igor Shesterkin ended his strong night with 37 saves. For Zibanejad, who added an assist on the opening score, it was his 21st point of these playoffs. Adam Fox added two assists for his 20th point which leads all NHL defensemen in playoff scoring.
The Rangers now have a series lead for the first time in the postseason as Game 2 is set for Friday night at the Garden.
“The Rangers have some dynamic players, and you give them an inch and they’ll take a mile, and they did that tonight,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “Give credit to them. They’re a good team. … They didn’t fluke their way to where they are in this playoffs.”NHL.com