Irrespective of the game, winning back-to-back championships titles is rare since it’s so hard. Injuries, egos, contract demands and the salary cap often derail second title runs.
The Tampa Bay Lightning, though, are one step away from something even harder: winning three Stanley Cups in a row, something that hasn’t been completed within the N.H.L. in nearly 4 many years.
On Saturday, the two-time champion Lightning beat the Latest York Rangers, 2-1, to win the Eastern Conference finals and return to the Stanley Cup Finals, where they may face the Colorado Avalanche starting Wednesday in Denver. Tampa’s longtime captain Steven Stamkos scored each Lightning goals, with the game-winner coming late within the third period.
The Lightning won the series in convincing fashion, dominating the Rangers within the clinching game, overcoming a two-game deficit and winning the last 4 games of the series outscoring the Rangers 12-5. The Lightning and their seasoned veterans committed few errors, which kept the Rangers’ top-ranked power play off the ice. The young Rangers, within the playoffs for the primary time in five seasons, did not rating at even strength within the last 4 games of the series. “We all know we didn’t play our greatest the primary two,” Stamkos said after the sport as his teammates celebrated around him on home ice. “They were executing, we weren’t.”
But, he said, “there’s no panic with this team. The toughest thing to do is to win a championship. We all know what it takes.”
The rating and the shots on goal were deceivingly close, and the statistics would have been more lopsided if not for the sensible play of Rangers’ goalie Igor Shesterkin. The Lightning had much more quality scoring probabilities, and the Rangers, who had won all five elimination games throughout the playoffs, looked deflated after a disheartening loss in Game 5 in Latest York on Thursday.
While Shesterkin desperately tried to maintain the Rangers in the sport, his counterpart, Tampa goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy, was hardly tested. He won his eighth consecutive clinching game, including six shutouts.
Tampa has now won 11 straight playoff series.
The Rangers had not lost 4 games in a row all season, so after three straight losses to the Lightning within the series, Rangers coach Gerard Gallant tried to leap start the Rangers’ offense, which had not scored an even-strength goal for the reason that second game of the series.
He moved Alexis Lafrenière to the highest line with Mika Zibanejad and Frank Vatrano and moved Chris Kreider to the second line with Barclay Goodrow and Filip Chytil. After the Rangers did not muster much offense in the primary period, he moved Kreider back to the highest line.
It did little good. The Lightning were the far sharper team from start the sport to the finish. They skated quickly, made sharp passes and scooped up errant passes by the Rangers. They peppered Shesterkin and attempted 25 shots in the primary period while the Rangers made only 12.
Shesterkin held Tampa at bay, even cleansing up his own mess. After an try to clear the puck was intercepted by Riley Nash of the Lightning, he stopped a tip-in by his teammate Patrick Maroon. He used his right pad to stop a tip-in attempt by Pierre-Édouard Bellemare and denied Anthony Cirelli on a breakaway.
The Rangers got here alive toward the top of the primary period. However it was a transient flourish in an otherwise lethargic effort. The Rangers weren’t helped by center Ryan Strome, who played injured and was a liability.
The second period began similar to the primary, with Tampa on the offensive and Shesterkin keeping the puck out of the web. He robbed Nikita Kucherov, Tampa’s top scorer, when he tried to backhand the puck past him.
The Rangers got here alive when defenseman Jacob Trouba leveled Corey Perry of the Lightning on the open ice because the puck flew past. No penalty for interference was called.
Kevin Rooney of the Rangers and Mikhail Sergachev of the Lightning were sent off with minor penalties after a scrum in front of Vasilevskiy.
In any case the good stops by Shesterkin, Tampa finally scored when Stamkos raced past an injured Strome and fired a wrist shot from the highest of the circle. It was Stamkos’s eighth goal of the playoffs.
The Rangers finally had an influence play likelihood within the third period when Corey Perry hit Chytil within the face with a stick. The Rangers mustered several shots, but they were all blocked.
The Rangers finally scored on one other power play when Stamkos was called for holding and Vatrano fired a shot off a face-off that skidded past Vasilevskiy. It was his second of the series and fifth of the playoffs.
Whatever momentum the Rangers mustered vanished 21 seconds later. Stamkos, coming out of the penalty box, raced toward the web, took a pass from Kucherov and shot the puck. Shesterkin grabbed it along with his glove, however the puck ricocheted out and Stamkos’s leg bumped it into the web. After a review, the goal stood.
Now Tampa will face the Avalanche, who’ve had loads of time to contemplate their next opponent. They finished off the Edmonton Oilers within the Western Conference finals nearly per week ago. They were the perfect team within the West the regular season with 119 points, and so they’re 12-2 up to now within the playoffs, including sweeps of the Nashville Predators and the Oilers.
They won their two games against Tampa this season.
The Rangers little question will spend the summer fascinated with how they blew a two-game lead within the Eastern Conference finals against the defending back-to-back Stanley Cup champions. But they’ve many reasons for optimism. With 110 points throughout the regular season, the Rangers had their best point total in seven years.
The Rangers even have one in all the youngest teams within the league and a solid core of emerging stars, including Lafrenière, Chytil and defenseman Adam Fox, in addition to seasoned veterans like Kreider, who had a career-high 52 goals, and his linemate, Zibanejad.