Even after the New York Rangers dropped a heartbreaker on Sunday afternoon in Game 3, the Blue Shirts still hold a surprising 2-1 lead over the defending Stanley Cup Champion Tampa Bay Lightning and are a hard team to bet against these days.
The Rangers have done more than enough to show just how true of a contender they are, but Tampa Bay will not quietly go into that good night as they showed in Game 3. After falling behind 2-0, the Lightning scored three unanswered goals, including the game-winner in the final minute of the third, to defeat the Rangers 3-2.
The series has taken on a much closer tone to what everyone had expected after Game 1. Both goaltenders have stepped up to the challenge when they’ve needed to make the big stop, and Game 4 shouldn’t be any different.
A win will give New York the chance to return to Madison Square Garden on Thursday with a 3-1 lead and the possibility of closing out the series on home ice.
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NHL odds: New York Rangers at Tampa Bay Lightning, 8 p.m ET
- Game 4 (NYR leads 2-1)
- Watch on ESPN
- Full series preview
Game 2 and Game 3 have been the goaltending duel that everyone was expecting for this series as two of the best netminders in the league go head-to-head in Igor Shesterkin and Andrei Vasilevskiy. Both sides have had to try and outwork the other in order for the opposing goaltender to make a mistake.
Shesterkin blinked first in Game 3 after allowing a late goal that ultimately led to the loss for New York. The young netminder has shown that he can bounce back after some rough outings in the opening round, but the concern now is, did the Rangers give the Lightning an invitation to get back into the series.
No one expected the Lightning to bow out of the playoffs quietly, but a momentous win like they had on Sunday could have been the spark that they needed in this series. The three goals were the most that Tampa had scored since Game 3 of their matchup with the Florida Panthers.
New York’s two-goal night was their fewest since their Game 5 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes.
The Rangers caught a break and are expected to have Ryan Strome in the lineup for Game 4 after he left the previous meeting with an injury. Head coach Gerard Gallant updated reporters on Monday following practice at Amalie Arena in Tampa Bay.
The Lightning is still without Brayden Point, head coach Jon Cooper confirmed following an optional team practice on Monday.
This series always seemed destined to go seven games and the Lightning will do their part to make that happen with a win in Game 4. The momentum is on their side and the Rangers didn’t do themselves any favors by giving them some life after taking the 2-0 series lead. Tampa Bay has the experience and the talent, and with Vasilevskiy looking like he’s found his rhythm in this series the goals aren’t going to come easy.