NHL Odds: Tampa Bay Lightning at New York Rangers, 8 p.m. ET
- Game 5 (Series tied 2-2)
- Watch on ESPN
There was plenty of talk about how the Tampa Bay Lightning’s long layoff between their sweep of the Florida Panthers in the second round and Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final against the New York Rangers sapped some of their momentum.
It looks like they needed eight periods to find their legs after dropping the first two games of the series against the Blueshirts before finally turning it on again.
After going down 2-0 midway through the second period of Game 3, Tampa has outscored New York 7-1 to knot the series up at two games apiece heading back to New York.
Game 4 was about as quintessential of a Lightning performance as we’ve seen over their run as two-time defending Stanley Cup champions. Not only were they able to limit the Grade-A scoring opportunities that the Rangers ran wild with over the first two games of the series, but they continued to find more effective chances on Igor Shesterkin’s net while Andrei Vasilevskiy turned in his best performance of the series yet.
The Lightning still will likely be without Brayden Point — their leading playoff scorer the last two seasons — for Game 5, but it appears that they might have finally found the formula to limit the Rangers.
Of course, all this success came down in Tampa.
With the series shifting back to Madison Square Garden, the Rangers will be hoping that they can continue holding serve in their historic home.
“I’m hoping it’s going to be a homer series. That’s what it looks like so far,” Rangers head coach Gerard Gallant said. “We’re pretty good in our building. They’re pretty good in their building.”
He’s not wrong.
The Rangers outscored the Lightning 9-4 in the first two games of the series against a future Hall-of-Fame goalie in Vasilevskiy that looked anything but that.
It didn’t help that the team in front of him was constantly playing on its toes, seemingly sitting back to invite an overwhelming amount of Rangers pressure.
Such reversions to their style in Games 1 and 2 would be a shocking one, especially considering it looks like they found their groove in Tampa. But you can’t quite rule out the mystique of the Garden, especially when Shesterkin is manning the crease.
Even with a less-than-sterling effort in Game 4, New York’s netminder is still boasting a .934 save percentage this series, stopping 142 of 152 shots faced.
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