We have a new series in the Eastern Conference Final.
With their 4-1 win over the New York Rangers on Tuesday night, the Tampa Bay Lightning have managed to draw even in the series by holding serve and winning consecutive games on home ice.
The series now shifts back to New York on Thursday for a pivotal Game 5. The Rangers will enter that game riding an eight-game winning streak on home ice. But they are going to have their hands full against a Lightning team that has new life in the series.
The Rangers allowed Tampa Bay to get back up after allowing a 2-0 lead slip away on Sunday, and now the Lightning are back even and looking like a team that is capable of shifting the series back in its favor as it looks to continue its quest for a third consecutive Stanley Cup.
Tuesday’s game was all about Tampa Bay jumping out to an early lead on a Patrick Maroon goal, and then watching their all-world goalie, Andrei Vasilevskiy, slam the door shut with a 34-save effort.
Nikita Kucherov, Steven Stamkos, and Ondrej Palat added goals in the win.
Palat continued his excellent post season with a three point night.
This feels significant for both teams and the series as a whole. Halfway through Game 3 the Lightning looked like they were on their way to a 3-0 deficit in the series. Now after back to back wins they are back even, have generated some offense against Igor Shesterkin, and are getting some great goaltending from Vasilevskiy.
Toronto learned the hard way in the first round you do not want to let the Lightning get up off the mat. The Maple Leafs let them up and lost the series.
Now the Rangers have done the same thing.
The positive for New York is it still has home ice advantage and has been great at Madison Square Garden this postseason. They also have an outstanding goalie and have overcome the odds all postseason when their backs were against the wall.
They are not necessarily back against the wall, but momentum in the series definitely is shifting back toward Tampa Bay. Game 5 will be pivotal in seeing if that trend continues. It does, these two games might start to seem like a big missed opportunity for the Rangers.
NEW YORK RANGERS v. TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING (Series tied 2-2)
Game 1 - Rangers 6, Lightning 2 Game 2 - Rangers 3, Lightning 2 Game 3 - Lightning 3, Rangers 2 Game 4 - Lightning 4, Rangers 1 Game 5 - June 9: Lightning at Rangers, 8 p.m. ET, (ESPN, SN, CBC, TVAS) Game 6 - June 11: Rangers at Lightning, 8 p.m. ET, (ESPN, SN, CBC, TVAS) *Game 7 - June 14: Lightning at Rangers, 8 p.m. ET, (ESPN, SN, CBC, TVAS)
* If necessary