Ondrej Palat scored the winning goal as the Tampa Bay Lightning snapped the New York Rangers’ eight-game home winning streak in the playoffs and helped his team take a 3-2 series lead in the Eastern Conference Finals.
The winning goal came with just 1:50 left in regulation and the game seemed destined for overtime. Tampa’s Brandon Hagel score an empty-net goal with 59 seconds left as the Rangers fell 3-1. It was another frustrating loss for the Blue Shirts, who had battled through the 60-minute affair and starter Igor Shesterkin had his usual stellar effort.
The Rangers goaltender made 24 saves on 26 shots in the loss. His counterpart, Andrei Vasilevskiy, made 24 stops as well for the lightning.
“I thought it was a pretty even game for the most part really,” Rangers coach Gerad Gallant said. “It was a defensive battle. There wasn’t a whole lot of ice either way. We gave up two or three 2-0n-1s, that was the only thing, but besides that it was a pretty sound hockey game.”
New York is now in a must-win situation going into Game 6 on Saturday night in Tampa Bay. It is an all too familiar position for the Rangers, who have spent the entirety of the playoffs as the underdog and having to come back from behind in series.
The Rangers fell behind to Carolina last series 3-2, but won two straight games to advance to the conference final.
The loss on Thursday marked the second game that the Rangers have allowed a late goal that cost them a win that could have put them ahead in the series. Mikhail Sergachev flung the puck from the point through traffic, which hit off the knee of Palat and went past Shesterkin for the game-winner.
“It definitely stings,” Jacob Trouba said about the loss. “Gotta have a short mindset. The series isn’t over. We’ve been here before. We gotta go there and win a game and come back here and play a Game 7. That’s the goal now. Take it one game at a time. Gotta go to Tampa and win a game.”
The Rangers broke a scoreless tie in the middle of the second period off a fluky goal by Lindgren. Tampa Bay’s Zach Bogosian attempted to wrap the puck around the boards, but the New York defenseman cut the puck and fired it from a tough angle along the boards.
Vasilevskiy misread the puck and it sailed over his left shoulder and into the net for the game’s opening goal at 10:29 of the second. It was just Lidngren’s second of the playoffs and came unassisted.
Ryan Lindgren from a wild angle ‼️
— B/R Open Ice (@BR_OpenIce) June 10, 2022
The Lightning tied the game off a shot from the top of the point late in the period. Sergachev fired the shot that made its way through traffic and past Shesterkin with 2:26 left in the second period.
The Rangers made Andrei Vasilevskiy and the lightning work in the opening period. Controlling the play and outshooting Tampa Bay 8-3 in the opening period, while creating a number of scoring chances. The Lightning flipped the table in the second with a much more balanced frame in the second, which resulted in the goals for each team.
For more coverage of the New York Rangers and Tampa Bay Lightning series, head to amNY.com.
Game 5 was far from a tightly officiated game between New York and Tampa Bay. The officials called just three total power plays, with the Lighting getting the extra call over the 60 minute contest.
Neither team scored on the man-advantage, but Gallant felt his side deserved a few more calls. Rangers forward Andrew Copp tried to keep things in perspective when he was asked about it after the loss.
“Maybe there were a couple of others that were borderline that deserved (to be called), but it wasn’t like they had seven power plays and we had one,” Copp said. “It was pretty tight checking. Physical. Not a lot of power plays either way. Maybe, but you can’t rely on that.”