K'Andre Miller, Kaapo Kakko & Mika Zibanejad each scored and Igor Shesterkin made 29 saves as the New York Rangers defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-2 on Friday night at Madison Square Garden to take a 2-0 series lead in the Eastern Conference Final.
Some of the bad blood carried over from the end of Game 1 and it was the Lightning who took advantage.
After some jostling at center ice before a faceoff, Rangers winger Ryan Reaves was called for slashing Pat Maroon & Tampa Bay was awarded a power play at 2:31.
Just 10 seconds into the man-advantage, Nikita Kucherov wristed a shot past the glove side of Shesterkin to give the Lightning a 1-0 lead.
New York answered right back with a goal by Miller at 5:59. His initial shot was blocked by Brandon Hagel, but the puck came right back to the Rangers defenseman and he snapped it past Lightning netminder Andrei Vasilevskiy to tie the game at one apiece.
That goal seemed to give the Rangers life and it eventually led to their second tally of the period.
Adam Fox crept in from the left point and waited until the perfect time to sauce a pass to Kakko on the doorstep & the 20 year old deflected the puck past Vasilevskiy at 17:32 to put the Rangers ahead 2-1.
While New York controlled most of the middle stanza, Tampa Bay did finish the period strong, picking up the last 7 shots on goal before the horn for the second intermission.
The hope for Bolts Nation was that the Lightning could carry over that momentum to the 3rd period, but it was the Rangers who extended their lead just 81 seconds in, when Zibanejad snapped a shot high over the blocker of Vasilevskiy to put the home team up two.
After the Lightning pulled Vasilevskiy with about four minutes left for an extra attacker, Nick Paul scored at the 17:58 mark to pull Tampa Bay within one.
But it proved to be too little, too late because Shesterkin & the New York defense stood tall to ensure they were heading back to Tampa up 2-0 in the series.
Vasilevskiy stopped 25 of the 28 shots he saw on the evening.
- Tampa Bay - PPG - Kucherov - (Hedman, Cirelli) - 2:41
- New York - Miller - (Vatrano, Kreider) - 5:59
- New York - Kakko - (Fox, Chytil) - 17:32
- New York - Zibanejad - (Fox, Kreider) - 1:21
- Tampa Bay - Paul - (Perry, Kucherov) - 17:58
- New York - Reaves - (Slashing) - 2:31
- Tampa Bay - Cernak - (Roughing) - 8:37
- Tampa Bay - Stamkos - (Slashing) - 12:09
- Tampa Bay - Foote - (Roughing) - 5:37
- Tampa Bay - Hedman - (Tripping) - 13:55
What's Next For The Bolts : The Lightning are back in action on Sunday afternoon as they welcome the New York Rangers to Amalie Arena for Game 3 of this Eastern Conference Final matchup. Puck drop is slated for 3:00pm with the pregame show starting at 2:00pm on NewsRadio WFLA & Lightning Power Play on the iHeartRadio app.
PHOTO : Getty Images