The New York Rangers, playing an elimination game on the road, rode Derick Brassard’s five point blitzkrieg en route to a 7-3 win against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
For much of the first two periods, Tampa Bay managed to keep Rangers attackers under control, limiting the visitors to 18 shots until the beginning of the third. From that point on, the Rangers took control by netting five goals on 16 shots, forcing Tampa Bay into their own zone for most of the third period. Brassard, playing both sides of the ice like a man possessed, claimed his hat trick on an empty-netter with 1:41 to play, his ninth of the postseason. Where Game 2 featured Tyler Johnson’s hat trick, it was all Brassard on Tuesday for the Rangers, adding two assists to cap his five-point night.
Enduring a flurry of shots from Tampa Bay, Henrik Lundqvist turned a tight 1-0 game around after making an amazing pad save on a Steve Stamkos blast. The Rangers capitalized on his heroics by netting their second goal with 4:30 left in the first period before the Lightning scored on a power play by Ryan Callahan. The Rangers and Lightning blanked out the second period, with Tampa Bay holding a 13-11 edge on shots on goal. When the third period kicked off, it was all Rangers.
The Rangers’ J.T. Miller flicked a Rick Nash dish past a diving Ben Bishop for an early 3-1 third period advantage. At the 6:00 mark, James Sheppard drove his first goal of the playoffs past Bishop, assisted by Tanner Glass and Dominic Moore. The Rangers would tack on three more goals while allowing two Nikita Kucherov strikes before Tampa Bay pulled their goalie.
New York Rangers fans are no stranger to elimination games, although they’re not familiar with Rangers losses in those situations. An astonishing 15-3 over their last 18 contests when on the brink of going home, the Rangers Tuesday night gave their faithful hometown crowd a glimmer of hope with amazing overall play on both ends of the ice. Keeping Stamkos scoreless for 60 minutes proved much easier than the previous six contests, and it will be vital for the Rangers to continue that trend in Game 7 should Rangers fans wish to enjoy a much deserved Eastern Conference Champs banner swaying from the rafters.
Game 7 is scheduled for Friday Night at Madison Square Garden. According to The Puck Report, The Rangers are 8-5 in Game 7 contests all-time (7-0 at home); Tampa Bay is 3-1. Can the Rangers grab their first Stanley Cup in 21 years, or will Tampa Bay get a shot at their first since 2004?
[Photo by Brian Blanco /Getty Images Sport]