Gerard Gallant glances at his opponent’s impressive history on nights like this, shrugs, and overthrown him.
The Tampa Bay Lightning strolled a ridiculous 17-game winning streak after a playoff loss at Madison Square Garden on Friday night — a record-crushing run spanning 60 games, 10 winning series and two championship titles — but it didn’t matter. The no-nonsense head coach of the New York Rangers did not.
“It’s not really,” Gallant told reporters. “They didn’t beat us 17 times. They beat other teams.”
With each playoff win, the latest being a 3-2 win over Friday’s Lightning, Gallant’s group is slowly converting believers.
no sir. Rangers are not those other teams.
They’re the only team to hold a 2-0 series lead over the mighty Lightning since 2019, they’re creating Grade-A chances, they’re producing the better goaltenders (so far), and they’re now ready to party. Six wins away from like it is 1994.
“The bigger the game, the bigger our team will be,” Gallant said. “Obviously we played a lot better hockey in the playoffs. We are just getting more confident. ,
This belief was evident in how quickly New York responded to the initial dose of adversity in Game 2.
When fourth-line bullies Ryan Reeves and Patrick Maroon engaged in some blowouts and were lining up for a face-off, only Reeves was sent into the penalty box – giving the visitors a questionable power-play opportunity.
Nikita Kucherov pushed a rare puck past Igor Shesterkin.
Only three minutes later K’Andre Miller blasted past an increasingly human-looking Andrei Vasilevsky, kicking off a 35-minute stretch in which New York owned the puck, pushed the pace, and Tampa. To thrust back on his heels.
A buzzing O-zone innings from Adam Fox ended with the defenseman spreading a cross-ice pass to the net-front Capo Kako.
Mika Zibnejad scorched the eventual winner high and clearly over Vasilevsky’s blocker after a cocky on-zone giveaway by Kucherov. Zibnejad’s laser extended his point streak to seven games (5-6–11) and helped cut Wasilewski’s save percentage below .900 for the second straight night.
On the opposite end, a dialed-in Shesterkin posted a .939 save percentage and 9-3 record as he was pulled in Game 4 against Pittsburgh in Round 1.
From their vagina-caliber goalscorer to their Norris-winning defenseman to their most dangerous scorer, the Rangers’ best players are toppling Tampa.
“We haven’t executed in the proper way that we’ve got here,” Lightning captain Steven Stamkos lamented. “They’re a very efficient team, and they can pay you.
“We need to go back to our identity.”
The Lightning took 50 pucks out at MSG this week. Some unnaturally sloppy executions from the most reliable post-season squad of 2020.
Victor Heidman said, “Puck management, turnover … it’s one of the things we need to get better at.”
As soon as one line dies, another blooms.
The Rangers extended their winning streak at the Garden to eight, the longest run of home success since the LA Kings slammed on home ice to win the 2014 Cup. He has led his competition 35-16 on that stretch.
We certainly aren’t counting Tampa just yet. The pride and pedigree of the organization will not allow this.
“I think we’ve gotten better at ourselves,” Lightning coach John Cooper said.
But with Tampa serving as the gold standard for the last 10 rounds of the playoffs, it was shocking to see Stamkos walk down the hall, hoping to borrow some of that no-quit, looking for evidence of that. In that two-game crunch can be closed.
Why should Lightning fans trust that Champs’ gas isn’t out?
Stamkos pointed his way to the Rangers for these conference finals. New York beat Pittsburgh 3–1 in the first round and Carolina 2–0 in the second.
“The recipe is there,” Stamkos said.
Let’s see what they can make at home on Sunday.
Fox Fast 5
, The book on Vasilevskiy is out. aim high.
Goals by location by reigning Conn Smyth champion in these playoffs: 18 high blockers, eight high gloves, five low gloves, three low blockers, zero five-holes (via Sportlokic).
• Chris Drury is thrilled with how well the acquisition fits his deadline.
The Rangers GM remembered going into the dressing room to congratulate his players after an emotional Game 7 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday – a victory that saw Winnipeg upgrade Andrew Copp’s offer from second-rounder to first-rounder .
“Copper looked at me and said, ‘Sorry about your first one,'” Durie smiled. “Which isn’t a problem.”
• Save a blank Perry glove? Yes.
• New US broadcast partner ESPN How happy is New York reaching the third round?
Game 1 of the Rangers-Lightning series was the most-watched conference final opener ever on American cable. That game had an average TV viewership of 2.4 million, a 34 percent jump from Game 1 of the previous season’s Lightning-Islanders tilt.