Chris Kreider scored two goals and the New York Rangers rolled to a 5-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres in Peter Laviolette’s debut as coach.

Artemi Panarin had a goal and an assist and Igor Shesterkin stopped 23 shots for his 100th career victory, becoming the first Rangers goalie to reach 100 wins in fewer than 187 appearances.

JJ Peterka had the lone goal for the Sabres, who came out flat in what they hope will be the season where they end an NHL-worst 12-season playoff drought.

Kreider’s power-play goal in the first period extended New York’s lead to 2-0 and he tallied short-handed midway through the third to make it 4-1.

 

Wild’s Gustavsson turns aside 41 in shutout

Filip Gustavsson stopped 41 shots and Brock Faber scored his first NHL goal to lead the Minnesota Wild to a 2-0 victory over the Florida Panthers.

Joel Eriksson Ek assisted on Faber’s goal and scored on the power play in the second period.

Minnesota improved to 9-1-1 in season openers at Xcel Energy Center and 11-2-3 at home against the Panthers.

 

Golden Knights beat Sharks for 2-0 start

Nicolas Hague and Nicolas Roy scored late in the second period and Logan Thompson made 22 as the Vegas Golden Knights defeated the San Jose Sharks, 4-1.

After Michael Amadio and San Jose’s Filip Zadina traded first-period goals, defending Stanley Cup champion Vegas took control late in the second.

Hague snapped the tie with 1:29 left in the period and Roy extended the lead 53 seconds later.

Brayden Pachal tallied his first NHL goal early in the third for the Knights, who haven’t trailed in winning their first two games.

New York Rangers coach Gerrard Gallant had no complaints with his side's effort in their 4-0 Game 5 loss to the New Jersey Devils who he said "played their best game of the series".

The Devils have flipped the script in their Stanley Cup first-round series after trailing 2-0 following back-to-back losses in Newark, taking a 3-2 lead with Thursday's triumph at Prudential Center.

Gallant blasted his side after their 3-1 home loss in Game 4 where they surrendered their advantage in the series, but he conceded the Devils were just too good on Thursday led by Erik Haula with two goals and an assist.

"I got no problem with their effort tonight. They competed," Gallant told reporters.

"Jersey played a hell of a game. You've got to give them a lot of credit. They played their best game in the series I thought tonight."

The defeat leaves the Rangers in danger of elimination on their home ice in Game 6. The Rangers rallied back from a 3-1 first-round series deficit last year against the Pittsburgh Penguins as well as when trailing 3-2 in the second round against the Carolina Hurricanes offering Gallant hope.

"The effort is there, we've been in this position before," he said. "We'll see what we can do, go back home on Saturday and rally the troops and get it going."

Rangers winger Chris Kreider also reflected on last year's playoffs after the game, demanding a response from his team.

"We've had a terrific fan base all year. We let them down, we let ourselves down at home," he said. "So it's up to us to show up and play the way we want to play from puck drop.

"All the cliches and euphemisms I throw at you guys all year, it's time to step up and do those things, right? It's time to play for a full 60 minutes. It's time to win a hockey game."

Beyond Haula's outstanding display, Devils goaltender Akira Schmid stopped 23 shots and Dawson Mercer had a goal and an assist. New Jersey captain Nico Hischier praised their approach.

"Tonight we did a lot of good things and that's exactly how we got to play," Hischier said.

"We knew if we use our speed, that's our strength. That's what makes us a dangerous team — if we play with our speed."

Game 6 is on Saturday at Madison Square Garden.

The Carolina Hurricanes secured their first back-to-back 100-point seasons in franchise history on Tuesday as they scored three in the third period to defeat the New York Rangers 3-2 on the road.

With the victory, the Hurricanes improved their record to 46-15-8 – trailing only the 54-11-5 Boston Bruins for the league's top mark – and 69 games is the fewest needed to reach 100 points in franchise history.

Adding to their historic night, Carolina set another franchise record with their 10th third-period comeback of the season.

Despite the action-packed finish, it was a defensive grind through two periods as an early goal from New York's Tyler Motte was the only score heading into the last.

Jalen Chatfield equalised nine minutes into the third period, but Kaapo Kakko put the Rangers back in front 2-1 just 31 seconds later.

The hectic scoring sequence was not over, as Stefan Noesen made it 2-2 only 18 seconds after the restart, setting up Teuvo Teravainen for the Hurricanes' winner with 2:33 remaining.

Hurricanes head coach Rod Brind'Amour said he was inspired by the way his team refused to drop their heads after going down.

"I thought it was a great effort, right from the start," he told reporters. "We didn't come off of it. We had a game plan and the guys knew what we needed to do. 

"They've got a high-offense team, so we were trying to limit their chances. Everybody – all 20 guys – contributed in this win. 

"Even though it wasn't looking good for most of the game, we were down, then we tied it up and they got another right away, I just loved the way we [shook it off], next shift. 

"It was great to tie it up and then get the late one. We got what we deserved tonight, for sure."

Offseason acquisition Brent Burns also got in on the history-making fun, adding to his franchise record for points by a defenseman (53) with the game-winning assist, and he pointed to Brind'Amour's system as the catalyst for his terrific year.

"The system has been great," he said. "We play with a deep team and we just roll. It's been a lot of fun. 

"I've said it before, but it's a great group, and a special group. It's been a lot of fun to try and come in and find a place."

Chatfield pointed to how previous comebacks have given the Hurricanes "more confidence" when faced with difficult situations, and they trust what they are doing as a unit.

"We know what we've got in this locker room, and we know how we want to play every night," he said.

"To be able to match up against these guys, another great team, [is great]. We lost the first two to them, so to be able to get this one feels nice. We just have to keep going from there."

Patrick Kane described making his debut for the New York Rangers as "pretty cool" but saw considerable room for improvement after a 5-3 loss to the Ottawa Senators.

Kane's trade this week from the Blackhawks marked the end of an era, with his 16-season stint in Chicago having included three Stanley Cup triumphs.

The first overall pick in the 2007 draft has still been performing at a high level in this campaign, ranking second at Chicago this season in goals (16) and points (45).

He has left a team at the foot of the Central Division for the Rangers, who sit third in the Metropolitan Division, and Kane received a warm welcome at Madison Square Garden.

"It was awesome. The crowd and coming out for warm-ups and the pre-game introduction, just the first game as a Ranger, it was a pretty cool experience," Kane said.

"Obviously I would have liked to play a little bit better and come out with a win, but hopefully it will come.

"I haven't played in a little bit, so I'm maybe a little bit rusty, but excited to get feeling good with this team.

"I'm excited to be here and excited to get better and play better for my teammates."

It was his first game since February 22, with Kane unable to prevent the Rangers (35-18-9) sliding to a loss to the Senators (31-26-4).

Rangers coach Gerard Gallant, quoted on the NHL website, said: "There was some good and there was a lot of bad, but there was some real good stuff too.

"They were good five-on-five for the most part, but I thought the power play hurt us, just trying to be too pretty and too many passes. Bottom line is you have to put the puck in the net, and we didn't do that."

Kane is hoping for better against the Boston Bruins on Saturday and over coming games as he begins to find his way.

"It'll be nice to settle in, get a couple of practices and kind of understand the way they want to play systematically, with the puck, offensive zone, things like that," he said. "They haven't given me too much yet, just telling me to go out there and play."

It is the end of an era in Chicago with the Blackhawks sending superstar Patrick Kane to the New York Rangers.

The trade, which had been expected for days, was reported by several media outlets on Tuesday.

In return for the three-time Stanley Cup winner, the Rangers are sending the Blackhawks a 2023 second-round draft pick and a fourth-round pick. The second-round selection will become a first-rounder in either 2024 or 2025 if the Rangers reach this year's Eastern Conference Finals.

Kane leaves the Blackhawks as one of the greatest players in franchise history.

He was instrumental to their dynasty in the 2010s, helping the club to Stanley Cup titles in 2010, 2013 and 2015. He scored the championship-clinching goal against the Philadelphia Flyers in overtime of Game 6 of the 2010 Finals, while winning the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player of the playoffs in 2013.

The 34-year-old Kane had spent his entire 16-season NHL career with the Blackhawks after being selected first overall in the 2007 draft.

The nine-time All-Star ranks second all-time in franchise history with 1,225 points, while his 446 goals are third-most by a Blackhawk. He also ranks third in franchise history in games played (1,161) and fourth in power-play goals (122).

As a 19-year-old rookie in 2007-08, Kane made an immediate impact in the NHL, winning the Calder Memorial Trophy as the league's top first-year player.

Eight years later in 2015-16, Kane won the Hart Memorial Trophy as league MVP as well as the Art Ross Trophy as scoring champion.

He is still performing at a high level, ranking second on Chicago this season in goals (16) and points (45), but the Blackhawks have the second-fewest points in the Western Conference and are in full rebuild mode.

Kane is in the final year of an eight-year, $84million contract he signed in 2014 and had a no-trade clause, so he had a choice in where he could be traded.

With the Rangers, who are in third place in the Metropolitan Division, he will be reunited with Artemi Panarin, who leads New York with 67 points.

Kane and Panarin were team-mates in Chicago for two seasons – including Kane's MVP and scoring champion season of 2015-16.

The New Jersey Devils see no need for panic after their 11-game road winning streak was ended by the New York Rangers on Monday.

Filip Chytil scored two minutes and 15 seconds into overtime to give the Rangers a 4-3 win at Madison Square Garden.

The Devils had made the short trip from Newark to Manhattan looking to tie the 2014-15 Minnesota Wild and 2005-06 Detroit Red Wings for the longest winning run away from home in NHL history.

New Jersey had previously not lost on the road since suffering a 5-2 defeat to the Philadelphia Flyers on October 13.

That remains their only away loss in regulation this season, with the Devils still 11-1-1 in road games this season.

The Devils remain top of the Metropolitan Division with their 21-5-2 record the second-best in the Eastern Conference heading into Tuesday's home game with the Dallas Stars.

That too will be a tough test for the Devils, with the Stars second in the Western Conference's Central Division.

But center Nico Hischier is remaining calm in the wake of some rare adversity for the Devils, who have now lost two games in a row.

He said: "Penalties kind of slowed us down in the second [period], we've got to be more disciplined, especially against a team we know [have a] really deadly powerplay.

"They scored a goal on it as well so we've gotta clean that up.

"It's a rivalry game. It was intense and close until the end. No time for panic. We have to regroup, and tomorrow is a new game. That's what we have to focus on right now."

Igor Shesterkin, who last season won the Vezina Trophy for the NHL's best goaltender, made 26 saves to frustrate the Devils, with the Rangers now 15-10-5 after a fourth successive win.

The Rangers had trailed 3-1 in the second period but Vincent Trocheck and Kaapo Kakko scored seven seconds apart to erase that deficit before Chytil had the final say.

"It always feels good that we have these comebacks, and we show our true character," Chytil said.

"We have to just keep going. Sometimes it's hard [to stay positive], but we had a three-game winning streak. It was like, 'We can get back into the game'."

Chris Kreider described the New York Rangers' triumph over the Los Angeles Kings as a "war of attrition" as they came from behind to win 5-3.

The Rangers ended the hosts' five-game winning streak on home ice despite a slow start in which they fell 2-0 down in the first period.

With the game locked at 3-3 heading into the final period, it was Kreider's two-goal heroics that ensured the Rangers came out on top.

"I don't think we got bottled up [early], I just think it was kind of a war of attrition," he said following a game in which Braden Schneider, Vincent Trocheck and Kaapo Kakko were also on target for the Rangers.

"A lot of face-offs in the neutral zone, and everything was kind of in the trenches for a while.

"I felt like we did a good job of advancing pucks and making them try to go 200 feet, trying to force turnovers, and it felt like we were just a bounce here or a bounce there away from getting a really good chance."

It was the first time this season the Rangers had come from two goals down to win and Kreider was encouraged to see such spirit from his team.

"That was kind of the staple for us last year – apparently that's the way we win hockey games," he said.

"Obviously we'd like to have a great start, and a great second period, and a fantastic finish, but that's not always how it goes.

"So for us to kind of regroup, and come back, and put our foot on the gas like that, it's definitely a good sign."

Rangers coach Gerrard Gallant was certainly pleased with what he saw.

"I thought everybody played great, they played their roles real well," he said. "I thought we were really, really good in the second period, that was a big difference for us, and then the game just continued that way.

"That's back-to-back games where I've been pretty excited about the way we've played."

"It's definitely satisfying. Being down 2-0 is a little scary 10 minutes into the hockey game, especially on the road, but I thought we battled back well."

Alexandar Georgiev says it was "pretty special" to be the Colorado Avalanche's shootout hero against the New York Rangers whom he left barely four months ago.

The Russian goaltender stopped three of four Rangers' shootout attempts as the Avalanche won 3-2 at his former home rink, Madison Square Garden on Tuesday.

Georgiev, who stopped Rangers winger Alexis Lafreniere to seal the win, had spent five years with the Rangers before being traded to the Stanley Cup champions in July.

"Pretty special," Georgiev told reporters. "It doesn't get much better than a tight shootout win.

"The building is awesome. Brought a lot of good memories back. But for me, it was just playing the game and letting it come to me… I was just enjoying the moment."

Avs head coach Jared Bednar praised Georgiev, who made 44 saves on 46 shots across the game to improve to 4-0-1 this season.

"I'm really happy for him," Bednar said. "Every game's a big game, but when you're coming in against your former team and playing against your old teammates, there's a little added incentive.

"I'm happy to see our guy come away with two points and the win."

Avs defenseman Cale Makar, who got his seventh assist in seven games, said Georgiev was on another planet in the game where he came up against star Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin.

"I feel like I knew Georgie was going to have a game tonight," Makar said. "He's a good goalie but I feel like he was on a completely different planet tonight."

The NHL season is just days away from dropping the first puck, and last year's playoffs planted the seeds for some intriguing storylines to watch.

After back-to-back Stanley Cup titles, the Tampa Bay Lightning were dethroned by a Colorado Avalanche side that looked nearly unbeatable. Both teams return similar casts with small alterations, and it would be no surprise to see these sides as the last two standing when it is all said and done.

Meanwhile, young phenom and arguably the new face of the league, Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers, showed he is more than a regular season performer as he took his team to the brink of the Stanley Cup Finals. 

McDavid, the Toronto Maple Leafs' Auston Matthews and the Minnesota Wild's Kirill Kaprizov look set to be leading the charge for the league's most valuable player, and all three are yet to turn 26, indicating this season could be a changing of the guard as the next generation takes over.

Can the Avalanche repeat as Stanley Cup champions?

The Avalanche were just too good in last season's playoffs. They were completely dominant, amassing a 16-4 record without losing consecutive games at any point. 

Their Stanley Cup Finals win against the then-reigning back-to-back champions Tampa Bay included a 7-0 thrashing at home, and two gutsy road wins with goaltender Darcy Kuemper was named player of the game.

It is undeniable that Kuemper was a massive part of the Avalanche's success during his breakout season, but with his rapid ascension came a rapidly rising price tag, and he cashed in with a five-year, $26million free agent deal to the Washington Capitals.

Replacing him is last year's backup Pavel Francouz – who performed admirably in games Kuemper missed – as well as new signing Alexandar Georgiev, who was Igor Shesterkin's backup with the New York Rangers.

With offensive stars Gabriel Landeskog, Mikko Rantanen and Nathan MacKinnon returning, as well as elite defenseman Cale Makar, the frightening core of the Avalanche remains intact. 

The third-highest scoring team in the NHL last season (312, behind Toronto's 315 and the Florida Panthers' 340), there is no reason to believe Colorado will not remain in the top echelon of offensive teams.

But ultimately seasons can be decided by the man you trust to protect your net, and the Avalanche will need to be proactive in addressing the issue if Francouz and Georgiev are not up to the task.

Is the Lightning dynasty still alive?

Tampa Bay have now reached three consecutive Stanley Cup Finals series, collecting titles in 2020 and 2021 before falling short against the Avalanche.

As history shows, sustaining that level of success deep into the playoffs in consecutive years is one of the hardest feats, largely due to the fact teams are playing 100-game seasons and absorbing so much extra physical wear-and-tear.

Their seemingly impenetrable defense and future Hall of Fame goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy looked vulnerable in the finals, and they started preseason with a combined losing margin of 14-2 in their first three games.

But this is the Lightning, and they still boast one of the best goalies in the sport, as well as a core of Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov, Brayden Point and Victor Hedman still in their prime.

They have earned the benefit of the doubt, and are still the team to beat in the Eastern Conference.

Will this be the year for McDavid and the Oilers?

The best player in hockey and two-time winner of the Hart Memorial Trophy for league MVP, McDavid enjoyed his first taste of playoff success as the Oilers won two series before being knocked out by the Avalanche in the Western Conference finals.

Prior to that, McDavid only had one series win in his first six seasons in the league, but he has led the NHL in points now on four occasions and it took an unbelievable 60-goal season from Toronto's Matthews to deny the 25-year-old his third Hart Trophy.

The trio of McDavid, Leon Draisaitl (who won the 2020 Hart Trophy and scored 55 goals last term) and Evander Kane constitute one of the best offensive units in the league, and they had won six of their past seven playoff games before being swept by the Avalanche.

With McDavid, the Oilers have one of the most talented players in the history of the sport who still may have his best hockey ahead of him. After falling just short last season, it would be no surprise to see him carry his team another step further.

Who are the Hart Memorial Trophy contenders?

McDavid will enter the season as the favourite, as alongside fellow 25-year-old and former top overall draft pick Matthews, he figures to reign over the league for the foreseeable future.

If he was on another team, Draisaitl would have to be considered a true contender, having already won the award in 2020, but playing next to McDavid limits the number of votes he can receive.

The Wild's Kaprizov is on an ascending trajectory, having won the 2021 Calder Memorial Trophy for Rookie of the Year before rising to All-Star status this past campaign, and could be a dark horse.

There has only been one goaltender to win the award since 2002 – Carey Price with the Montreal Canadiens in 2015 – but Shesterkin from the Rangers and Vasilevskiy from the Lightning both possess the ability and the star power to enter consideration if their teams put together outlier defensive seasons.

Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos revelled in his side's 2-1 victory over the New York Rangers on Saturday, but insisted they will now face the best team in the NHL in the Stanley Cup Finals.

The Lightning will now face the Colorado Avalanche after winning Game 6 and the Eastern Conference finals on Saturday, with Stamkos scoring both goals.

The 32-year-old put the reigning Stanley Cup champions up half-way through the second period, but the game seemed headed for overtime after Frank Vatrano equalised during a power play in the third.

The Lightning captain responded with another goal almost straight from the restart, getting on the end of a Nikita Kucherov pass in space to put his side back in front, likening it to a dream scenario afterwards.

He is aware of what awaits in Tampa Bay's hopes for a third-straight Stanley Cup, however.

"These are the games you live for as a kid," Stamkos told ESPN post-game. "It was everything I thought it was going to be and more, to give ourselves a chance to go to the finals three years in a row is amazing.

"To have a part in it tonight was certainly icing on the cake. It was just an unbelievable team effort, we deserved this one and we got it.

"The hardest thing to do is to win the championship and this group has been in the trenches. We know what it takes, but now we've got the best team in the league in the Colorado Avalanche. They have it all, that's what teams aspire to be."

Sweeping the Florida Panthers in the second round, the Lightning had to tough it out against the Rangers after going down 2-0 in the series.

Claiming Game 5 in New York before closing the series out on Sunday, Stamkos praised his battle-hardened team's ability to stay calm in adversity against a tough opponent.

"We know we didn't play our best the first two," he said. "We had that long break and didn't want to use an excuse, and they [the Rangers] had a couple of hard-fought series. They were executing and we weren't.

"We stuck with it. There's no panic on this team and what an effort. Tonight was amazing. To rattle off four against that team at this time of the year, it's pretty impressive."

A New York Rangers fan has been banned for life from Madison Square Garden for punching a Tampa Bay Lightning fan in the face after Thursday's Game 5 of the Eastern Conference final.

Following the 3-1 Tampa Bay win that gave them a 3-2 series advantage, the Rangers fan and Lightning fan exchanged words while exiting the arena, police said.

A video surfaced on social media of the Rangers fan turning and punching the Lightning fan. He then struck another person who tried to intervene.

While the victim received assistance on the ground from witnesses, the assailant fled the arena.

Police confirmed that a 29-year-old Staten Island man was arrested for assault, disorderly conduct and harassment.

A Madison Square Garden statement released on Friday called the incident an "abhorrent assault."

"We are cooperating fully with law enforcement as this is now a criminal matter. The assailant will also be banned from The Garden and all other MSG venues for life," MSG said in its statement.

"All guests - no matter what team they support - should feel safe and respected in The Garden. This has and always will be our policy."

In a battle between arguably the two best goaltenders in the world, it was the Tampa Bay Lightning's Andrei Vasilevskiy who came out on top in a 3-1 road win against the New York Rangers and Igor Shesterkin in Game 5.

With the win, the Lightning pulled ahead 3-2 in the Eastern Conference Finals, with a chance to close it out in front of their home fans in Game 6. If needed, Game 7 will head back to Madison Square Garden.

Each team lived up to their staunch defensive reputations early on, leading to a scoreless first 30 minutes, before Ryan Lindgren finally found the breakthrough halfway through the second period.

Lightning defensman Mikhail Sergachev equalised with three minutes remaining in the second term, setting up a nail-biting finish.

After 18 minutes of tight, scoreless hockey, Tampa Bay's Ondrej Palat was able to deflect in a shot on goal, forcing New York to pull their goalie in a desperation move, only for Brandon Hagel to put the icing on the cake with an empty-netter.

Speaking to ESPN after the win, Lightning winger Pat Maroon said his side is no longer rattled by these massive games after winning back-to-back Stanley Cups.

"I think [our recent success] leads to confidence, it calms the nerves," he said. "When you get settled in, and it's a 1-1 game there, our nerves are calm, we're relaxed.

"We know what it takes, we know how to win hockey games, we know how to close out games.

"When we've been put in situations like we have the last two years, you kind of get that swagger a little bit. We've had that adversity with winning in the bubble, and some other things, but like [Steven Stamkos] said, a good road win would be nice.

"The guys played hard, it's a gutsy win."

When asked about what it feels like to live out every young hockey player's dreams of being part of a great Stanley Cup-winning team, Maroon was thankful for the position he is in.

"I just try to go out there and be a part of it," he said. "Be an impact in the room, or on the ice, whatever I can do.

"Certainly these runs have been remarkable for me, and my family, but it's been fun just to be with the boys, and to see how relentless we are in the room, and what it takes to win.

"Guys do whatever it takes – it's so fun to look around the room and to see all the sacrifices we've put together these last three years, it's honestly amazing. I'm happy to be a part of that."

He added: "I remember playing in the basement with my two brothers… playing street hockey, [dreaming of] scoring that game-winning goal, being a part of the Stanley Cup.

"You want to be a part of those moments. Obviously I'm living it right now – I never thought I'd be in the NHL, winning cups – but I'm living it, I'm having fun with it, and I'm enjoying it. 

"We have a great group of guys in there that make everything special."

Veteran Tampa Bay Lightning center Pierre-Edouard Bellemare pointed to the return of urgency as his side levelled the NHL Stanley Cup Eastern Conference Finals after a 4-1 win over the New York Rangers on Tuesday.

The Lightning, chase their third straight Stanley Cup, went down 2-0 in the Conference Finals after the Rangers claimed 6-2 and 3-2 wins in the opening two games at Madison Square Garden.

But Tuesday’s Game 4 win followed Sunday’s 3-2 victory at Amalie Arena, hauling the Lightning back into contention.

"I think the urgency," Bellemare said post-game. "We were not happy about the way we played [in the first two games].

"We’re a team that understand when we’re not good and the coaches have been helping us to be better. I think the last two games have been much better for us."

Bellemare refused to point to the Lightning’s lengthy break between series, having swept the Florida Panthers 4-0 in the second round.

"I don’t want to use that as an excuse for the way we played," Bellemare said.

"I don’t think we were engaged enough. Yes, we were off for nine days, but at the end of the day it’s the Conference Finals.

"This is behind us. It’s 2-2 in the series, so that’s good."

Patrick Maroon had fired in a rebound to earn Tampa Bay an early lead, before Nikita Kucherov found space in the middle from Ondrej Palat’s pass to double their advantage in the second period. The goal was Kucherov’s 21st point this postseason.

Steven Stamkos netted his seventh goal of the playoffs, scoring 4:56 into the third period to make it 3-0, before Artemi Panarin pulled one back with a power play goal, only for Palat to fire into an empty net to close out the win.

The victory was Tampa Bay’s sixth in a row at home in the postseason.

"Obviously it’s a little bit easier in front of our fans," Bellemare said. "We’ve got their energy the whole game and we feed on it.

On the Lightning, Bellemare added: "The locker room is really special. It’s the same from the weakest link all the way to the top of the organisation.

"Everyone is thinking the same and pushing in the same direction. It’s really easy to play here."

Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Jon Cooper praised his side's ability to stay calm, after they snatched a 3-2 win from the New York Rangers in Game 3 on Sunday.

The Lightning were down 2-0 in the second period after power-play goals from Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider, but they rallied and Ondrej Palat scored the winning goal with 42 seconds remaining in the game.

After losing the first two games in the Eastern Conference finals, Cooper's side cut the series deficit to 2-1 with the win, keeping their hopes to retain the Stanley Cup alive.

The Lightning coach asserted his side could draw on extensive playoff experience in fighting back from losing position.

"We've been in spots like this," Cooper said post-game. "The big thing for us was, I felt like we had a recipe, we just had to stay with it. I think there are times in this series, we've tried to manufacture things that weren't there, that put us on our heels and gave up opportunities.

"Whether it was a break, whatever you want to call, we weren't in sync. Today we were down 2-0 and I don't want to sit here and say we didn't deserve to be down 2-0 because their power plays have been great, but our five-on-five game I liked.

"We just needed to stick with that and stay out of the box. I think in years past, maybe, panic would have set in at some point – definitely not with this group. No question, being there before, it's really helped us."

Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos were able to restore parity for the reigning champions, before Kucherov provided the crafty assist for Palat in the final minute.

Game 4 is on Tuesday, with the Rangers looking to make their first appearance in the Stanley Cup Finals since 2014.

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."

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