Going in, it figured to a difficult task for the Rangers. They were facing the high-powered offense from the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Bolts had the most goals scored in the NHL 2015 Regular season.
Beyond that fact, the Rangers had never beaten the Bolts Benjamin Bishop – a massive 6’7” goalie. In fact Bishop had held the Ranger to a Goals Against average of less than 1 and half goals per game . The actual figure was 1.47.
That’s going in.
But soon enough, actually nearing the end of the second period in what had been an energetic yet scoreless game, the Derek Stepan caravan rolled on. At 19:47 of the second period, Stepan put in a rebound, and the 0-0 game became 1-0 as the period closed.
This shot was a mirror image of Stepan’s 2nd Round, game and series winner in overtime three days ago. Eerily the same shot.
The only difference was that Stepan, with his arms raised above his head after he had scored, skated toward the opposite side of the Tampa Bay Lightning nets.
When his overtime goal went in to defeat the Capitals he headed to his left. This time it was to the right.
However taking the lead is only the first step toward victory. As expected, The Lightning with its high-powered offense did manage to tie the score. It was a power play goal by Lightning’s Ondrej Palat at 6:45.
Now that the game was tied in the 3rd period, everything is magnified in importance. Every bounce of the puck, or every swing of a stick become crucial. The Rangers incurred two minor penalties after Palat’s tying goal.
Ryan McDonough was sent off for a high stick, and with under five minutes remaining in regulation time, Ranger Chris Kreider got himself a two-minute minor for holding an opponents stick. The penalty was at 15:05.
The Rangers were able to withstand the Lightning’s attempts to score on both power plays. Half a minute after Kreider’s penalty time had ended, the Rangers put on a strong push led by Derick Brassard and Kevin Hayes.
At 17:35, Dominick Moore found himself in the paint in front of Lightning goalie Benjamin Bishop,
who until today had owned the Rangers. Bishop was 8-0 vs the Rangers – as I said – until today.
Moore was in the goalie’s crease and a shot came from the Bishop’s right side. It wasn’t on goal as it shot right past Bishop, through the crease. It hit Moore, who was standing to Bishop’s left, on his right shin and caromed directly into the nets.
2:15 to go and the Rangers withstood the Lightning’s final attempts, after pulling their goalie to attack with six skaters against 5. But they couldn’t get one past the Ranger goalie Henrik Lundqvist.
Rangers win 2-1 – the seventh time in these playoff that they’ve won by this score. And no – winning by 2-1 is NOT getting old.