NHL

'We battled, we found a way' – New York Rangers coach Gerard Gallant after streak-ending Game 2 win

By Sports Desk June 04, 2022

The New York Rangers held serve at home against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Friday, holding on for a 3-2 win to take a 2-0 lead in the Eastern Conference Finals.

It was the Lightning who struck first, with Nikita Kucherov taking advantage of an early power play to put the reigning back-to-back Stanley Cup champions ahead 1-0 less than three minutes in.

But the lead would be short-lived, with K'Andre Miller squaring the ledger less than five minutes later, before Kaapo Kakko gave the Rangers a 2-1 lead heading into the second period.

In a clash between arguably the two greatest goaltenders in the game – New York's Igor Shesterkin and Tampa Bay's Andrei Vasilevskiy – the second period was a 20-minute scoreless stalemate, setting up a thrilling third frame.

However, much of the drama was sucked out of the contest when New York's Mika Zibanejad gave the Rangers a 3-1 buffer just two minutes into the period, and Shesterkin was determined to see it out.

A late Nicholas Paul goal set up a frantic final two minutes, but the Rangers' defense held firm, securing the win.

With the win, the Rangers snapped a streak of 17 consecutive Lightning wins following a playoff loss, with their last back-to-back playoff losses coming in April, 2019.

Speaking to the media after the win, Rangers defenseman Adam Fox – who had two assists – said his side are good at playing spoiler.

"We heard all year that [we weren't] really going to have playoff success," he said. 

"We’ve said it all year, the belief in the room is high and the outside opinions isn’t really affecting anyone. 

"Coming from down 3-1 [against the Pittsburgh Penguins], down 2-0 [against the Carolina Hurricanes] and [the Lightning] obviously had a good playoff streak of not losing back-to-back games, but that’s not really in our minds coming into the games.

"We're not thinking about what streaks teams have or how they've done earlier. It's right now, and we're just trying to bring it day in and day out.

"We did a great job limiting them, especially in the first two periods. We didn't make too many mistakes… [and] when we needed those big saves, we got them at the end, as usual."

Rangers coach Gerard Gallant called it "a huge win".

"It's a huge win for us, but we just get ready for the next one," he said. 

"The way we played the last two games, that's the way we're going to have to play to win the series. We want to battle hard, we want to compete hard and we've been a tough out so far.

"We knew they were going to push real hard... [but] we battled, we found a way. We're playing against a real good team over there. They pushed it, we made some key saves at the end."

Lightning captain Steven Stamkos said his side was punished for their mistakes, but he hopes they will carry some momentum into the next fixture back in Tampa Bay after dominating the last 15 minutes.

"We haven’t executed the proper way that got us here," he said. 

"They are a skilled team and make you pay. We found some momentum at the end – we have to carry that over."

Related items

  • NHL: Panthers hold on to move within win of Stanley Cup title NHL: Panthers hold on to move within win of Stanley Cup title

    Sam Reinhart and Aleksander Barkov each had a goal and an assist and the Florida Panthers held on for a 4-3 victory over the Edmonton Oilers to take a 3-0 lead in the Stanley Cup Final on Thursday night.

    Vladimir Tarasenko and Sam Bennett also scored for the Panthers, who can wrap up the franchise’s first Stanley Cup title in Game 4 in Edmonton on Saturday night.

    Florida carried a 4-1 lead into the third period, but Philip Broberg scored at 6:02 and Ryan McLeod made it a one-goal game with 5:17 remaining.

    The Oilers, however, could not beat Sergei Bobrovsky again and now face the daunting task of trying to win four straight games to bring the Stanley Cup back to Canada for the first time since 1993 – months before the Panthers’ inaugural season.

    Only four teams in league playoff history (1975 New York Islanders, 2010 Philadelphia Flyers and 2014 Los Angeles Kings) have won a series after losing the first three games and only once in the final (1942 Toronto Maple Leafs).

    Bobrovsky finished with 32 saves to win his sixth straight start. He allowed more than two goals for the first time during that span.

    The Panthers showed no ill effects from waiting to fly from South Florida to Alberta, a decision that was questioned when their plane was delayed by storms and got in a few hours late Wednesday – less than 24 hours before puck drop.

  • Panthers take 2-0 lead in Stanley Cup Final Panthers take 2-0 lead in Stanley Cup Final

    Evan Rodrigues had two of three Florida Panthers goals in the third period as the Eastern Conference champions took a 2-0 lead on the Edmonton Oilers in the Stanley Cup Final with Monday's 4-1 win.

    Niko Mikkola also scored and Aaron Ekblad had a game-sealing empty-net goal in the final minutes as the Panthers moved two wins away from the franchise's first Stanley Cup title.

    They did so by keeping Connor McDavid and Edmonton's high-powered offence in check for a second straight meeting. After being dealt a 3-0 loss in Saturday's opener of the best-of-seven series, the Oilers managed just seven shots on goal over the first two periods of Game 2 and 19 for the night.

    Florida did sustain a key injury in Game 2, however, as captain and top-line centre Aleksandar Barkov did not return after taking an elbow to the head from Edmonton's Leon Draisaitl midway through the third period. 

    Mattias Ekholm recorded the lone goal for the Oilers, who will attempt to reverse momentum on home ice when the series shifts to Edmonton for Thursday's Game 3.

    Despite Florida owning a 22-7 shot advantage through the first two periods, the teams were locked in a 1-1 tie until Rodrigues stole an attempted clearing pass from Edmonton's Evan Bouchard in the Oilers' end and whistled a shot past goaltender Stuart Skinner 3:11 into the third.

    Rodrigues struck again on the power play created by Draisaitl's roughing penalty on Barkov with 9:28 remaining, as he redirected a pass from Anton Lundell into the Edmonton net for a 3-1 Florida lead with 7:34 left.

    Oilers coach Kris Knoblauch pulled Skinner for an extra attacker with under seven minutes to go, and the move gave Edmonton essentially a two-man advantage when Florida defenceman Oliver Ekman-Larsson received a delay of game penalty for shooting the puck into the stands with less than five minutes remaining.

    The Panthers killed off the infraction, however, then ended any hopes of an Edmonton comeback when Ekblad scored into the vacant net with 2:28 left to play.

    Florida had the game's first prime scoring opportunity when Oilers forward Warren Foegele received a five-minute major penalty and an ejection for a knee-to-knee hit on the Panthers' Eetu Luostarinen midway through the first period.

    The Panthers couldn't capitalise, however, and the sides were soon 4-on-4 when Ekman-Larsson was called for tripping during the extended power play.

    Just 19 seconds after Ekman-Larsson was sent off, Ekholm's shot on a 2-on-1 rush evaded Florida netminder Sergei Bobrovsky to put Edmonton up 1-0 with 8:43 remaining in the opening period.

    Florida drew even midway through the second period when Mikkola fired a drop pass from Lundell past Skinner.

    Bobrovsky finished with 18 saves, while Skinner stopped 25 of 28 shots.

  • NHL: Bobrovsky puts on masterclass in Panthers' Game 1 win of Stanley Cup Final NHL: Bobrovsky puts on masterclass in Panthers' Game 1 win of Stanley Cup Final

    Sergei Bobrovsky continued his red-hot play with 32 saves and Carter Verhaeghe and Evan Rodrigues scored to lift the Florida Panthers to a 3-0 victory over the Edmonton Oilers in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final on Saturday night.

    Bobrovsky was the story as the Oilers outshot the Panthers 32-17. He turned in one of the most memorable playoff goaltending performances in recent history, denying multiple breakaways and even managed to make saves without his stick for 30 seconds.

    Over his last four playoff games, the 35-year-old Bobrovsky has stopped 101 of 106 shots for a .953 save percentage.

    Three-time MVP Connor McDavid, who leads all scorers in the postseason with 31 points, led all skaters with six shots but couldn’t beat the Russian goaltender.

    Thanks to him, the Panthers have a lead in the Cup final for the first time in franchise history and are three wins away from their first championship.

    Eetu Luostarinen scored into an empty net with five seconds remaining, but that insurance goal was hardly needed the way Bobrovsky played.

    Game 2 is Tuesday in Florida.

    The goals by Verhaeghe and Rodriguez came on the first five shots against Edmonton’s Stuart Skinner, who wasn't to blame for either one.  

    The Oilers were shut out in the playoffs for the first time since June 2, 2022, against Colorado.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.