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Tampa Bay Defends Its Home Ice to Even the Series

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TAMPA, Fla. — Nikita Kucherov scored on a breakaway and Andrei Vasilevskiy made 33 saves Tuesday night to assist the Lightning shut down the Rangers, 4-1, and even the Eastern Conference finals at two games apiece.

Kucherov took a pass from Ondrej Palat in the midst of the ice, skated toward Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin and put the puck by him to present Tampa Bay a two-goal lead just over 13 minutes into the second period.

Pat Maroon and Steven Stamkos also beat Shesterkin, while Palat added an empty-net goal for the Lightning, who’ve rebounded from losing the primary two games of the series at Madison Square Garden to maintain their bid to turn into the primary team in nearly 40 years to win three consecutive Stanley Cup titles alive.

Game 5 is Thursday night in Latest York, where the Rangers won Games 1 and a couple of and are 8-1 this postseason.

Vasilevskiy stopped 28 of 30 shots to win Game 3 and was even higher Tuesday, when he prolonged a shutout streak to almost 67 minutes before Artemi Panarin scored on the ability play 16 minutes 27 seconds into the third period.

Until Vasilevskiy’s bid for a shutout ended, the Rangers hadn’t scored since Chris Kreider’s power-play goal put them ahead 2-0 at 9:44 of the second period in Game 3.

It has been all Tampa Bay since then, with Kucherov and Stamkos scoring to wipe out the Game 3 deficit before Palat’s game-winner in the ultimate minute.

The Lightning began faster Tuesday night, scoring on Maroon’s rebound just 2:38 into the sport.

It was the third goal of the playoffs for Maroon, 34, a fourth-line forward who’s chasing a fourth consecutive Stanley Cup title after winning with St. Louis in 2019 after which Tampa Bay in 2020 and 2021.

Stamkos’s goal built the result in 3-0 early within the third period. Palat’s goal with 8.7 seconds remaining gave him a three-point night.

Shesterkin, who faced 51 shots in Game 3, stopped 27 of 30 shots Tuesday.

The Rangers played without forward Ryan Strome, who has a lower-body injury and was scratched after skating in pregame warmups. He was injured Sunday, when he exited within the second period after playing only a little bit over seven minutes. Rangers forward Filip Chytil left just past the midpoint of the second period on Tuesday after successful by Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman. He missed the remaining of the sport with an upper-body injury.

The Lightning played for the seventh straight game without forward Brayden Point, who has been out of the lineup since suffering a lower-body injury during Game 7 of Tampa Bay’s first-round victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs.

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