TAMPA, Fla. - Forward Nikita Kucherov scored at 3:33 of overtime, ending a seesaw Game 3 against the Rangers as the Lightning won, 6-5, last night and took a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference finals.
Kucherov's seventh goal of the playoffs zipped past the stick of Henrik Lundqvist, who has allowed 12 goals in the past two games.
Game 4 is here tomorrow.
In a wide-open game during which each team lost a two-goal lead, Dan Boyle forced overtime with just 1:56 remaining in regulation with his third goal of the playoffs.
Lightning winger Ondrej Palat had scored with 5:55 left in the third period, snapping a 4-4 tie. Palat's goal, his second of the game, came when he skated across the slot from the right side, eluding two Rangers, and beat Lundqvist.
The Rangers, who led 2-0 in the first period, erased a 4-2 Lightning lead in the second. Jesper Fast put in a rebound in front late in the second that trimmed the deficit to 4-3. Fast was tripped at 1:32 of the third, setting the stage for Ryan McDonagh's tying power-play goal. He fired in a top-shelf goal from the lower right circle on a pretty seam pass by Kevin Hayes at 2:28 for the 4-4 tie. It was the second power-play goal in four chances for the Rangers
A 2-1 Rangers' lead vanished in a crazy second period, as Tampa scored three straight goals after the Rangers couldn't cash in on two power plays. On the second, the Rangers just missed as the puck trickled through Ben Bishop and slid past the left post after Marc Staal's tip of Derick Brassard's shot.
But with Brassard in the box for a hook during a great shift by Steven Stamkos and Victor Hedman, the Rangers lost the lead on a give-and-go: Palat to Tyler Johnson to Palat, who streaked in past Dan Girardi and beat Lundqvist. Tampa Bay kept up the pressure and took the lead with both teams a man down after Brendan Morrow and Keith Yandle were penalized at 12:01.
Johnson, unguarded by Chris Kreider in front, deposited a pass from Palat, which went through Kevin Klein and past Lundqvist for a 3-2 lead at 13:17, and Amalie Arena was rocking. But the attack wasn't over. Alex Killorn slowed down on a rush, deked, and when Staal and Boyle fell, zipped a shot high glove side to extend the lead to 4-2.
Fast's second goal of the game on a rebound of Klein's shot brought the Blueshirts back to 4-3 with 2:13 left in the period.
The Rangers had sped out to a 2-0 lead in the first. Cedric Paquette threw a right at Fast and was called for roughing 26 seconds in. Brassard scored on the power play at 1:02. Bishop never saw Brassard's wrister because he was screened by Kreider. That gave the Rangers their fifth goal in the last 15 power-play opportunities.
After Lundqvist slid to his left to deny Killorn's one-timer off a seam pass as a Lightning power-play ended, the Rangers struck again.
A collision between Derek Stepan and Matt Carle forced the Lightning defenseman to head for the bench and Kreider fed Fast, who broke in alone on Bishop. The rookie lifted his left leg to fake a shot, and put a backhander past the goalie at 9:55 for his second playoff goal.
But a turnover and Lundqvist's bad decision allowed the Lightning to halve the lead. Stamkos stripped Boyle in the Tampa zone and headed down ice with Killorn. Brassard caught up and Killorn flubbed the shot, but Lundqvist poked the sliding puck right into Stamkos' path and he scored at 11:07.