NHL Playoffs: Rangers survive late Lightning surge, take 2-0 series lead

nhl games tonight
Jun 3, 2022; New York, New York, USA; New York Rangers right wing Kaapo Kakko (24) celebrates his goal with center Filip Chytil (72) during the first period in game two of the Eastern Conference Final of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports

The NHL Playoffs Eastern Conference Final saw a much more competitive game for the Tampa Bay Lightning but with the same result.

Thanks to their kids, the New York Rangers were able to hold off a late push by Tampa for a 3-2 win. In doing so, they ended a streak of 17 straight Lightning wins after a playoff loss since 2020 that helped them win back-to-back Cups.

“We’ve said it all year, the belief in the room is high and outside opinions don’t matter,” Adam Fox said. “We’re not thinking about what streaks other teams have.”

The Blueshirts will now head to Amalie Arena for Game 3 on Sunday.

NHL Playoffs: Rangers 3 vs Lightning 2

The New York Rangers continue to blow away narratives in these playoffs with their latest win.

Coming into this series, many critics talked about them not having faced a starting goaltender in the playoffs, aside from an injured Tristan Jarry in Game 7 of the opening round against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Things were going to be much harder versus Andrei Vasilevskiy, but the Rangers have scored 9 goals on him en route to a 2-0 series lead.

After Game 1, critics chalked it up to 9 days of rust after Tampa swept the Florida Panthers. The consensus among them was a more dominant Lightning team in Game 2.

Things started off well for Tampa with Nikita Kucherov scoring a power play goal just 2:41 into the contest. But the Rangers kids responded to give the team a lead by the end of the first period.

nhl playoffs
Jun 3, 2022; New York, New York, USA; New York Rangers defenseman K’Andre Miller (79) celebrates his goal against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the first period in game two of the Eastern Conference Final of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports

First, it was 22 year-old K’Andre Miller following up his blocked shot to beat Vasilevskiy. Then the Rangers Kid Line went to work on Tampa controlling the play in the offensive zone. Adam Fox, all of 24 years-old made an incredible pass to Kaapo Kakko, who is just 21, for an easy tip in.

Igor Shesterkin was strong throughout the game and helped keep Tampa at bay until Mika Zibanejad scored just 1:21 into the third period off an odd man rush.

“It was a big goal, obviously,” Rangers coach Gerard Gallant said. “We knew they were going to push real hard. … We battled. We found a way. We are playing against a real good team over there and again, they pushed it and we made some key saves at the end there to keep it 3-2.”

NHL.com

That goal proved to be the game-winner as Nick Paul cut the lead to one with Vasilevskiy pulled. Tampa’s late surge was snuffed out after Steven Stamkos was robbed twice from in tight. His first chance was blocked by Jacob Trouba and his second stopped by Shesterkin, who finished the game with 29 saves.

Vasilevskiy made 25 saves in the losing effort and has an .855 SV% with a 4.60 GAA in this series.

“It was egregious what was happening [with turnovers], especially after the first five minutes of the first all the way to halfway through the second,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper lamented. “That isn’t game plan. That isn’t what they’re doing. You’ve got to manage the puck.”

The best-of-seven series shifts to Tampa now where the Lightning are 4-1 at home in these playoffs. New York is just 2-5 on the road in the post season, but both wins came in big spots. First in Pittsburgh in Game 6 to avoid elimination in the opening round, and then in Game 7 to take down the Hurricanes.