After a loss, New York ends Tampa Bay’s NHL-record winning streak in playoff games.
As it turns out, history will not be on our side this time around.
The Lightning’s streak of 17 straight victories following a loss in the playoffs had no bearing on the 18th.
Is it possible for them to be beaten four times in seven games?
The Rangers aren’t going to simply bend to their will. That means the Lightning must outwork the Canucks on the ice if they want to advance to the conference finals and compete for a third consecutive Stanley Cup.
They’ve also dug themselves a big hole.
In the wake of a 3-2 loss to the New York Rangers, the Lightning are two losses away from elimination heading into Sunday’s Game 3 in Tampa.
With two games in the Stanley Cup Finals series, we’re left with more questions than answers:
After so many days between games, did the Lightning lose their edge?
What’s going on here? Are they attempting to do too much? Are they pinching too often?
What are the ramifications of three consecutive postseasons that dragged on forever? During that time, how would you describe a goaltender? Why would they put their bodies through such a gruelling process?
The younger, fresher Rangers may require them to play with 12 forwards and six defenders. Is Brayden Point really needed as an extra forward?
Taking away the middle of the ice, playing defence first, and remaining patient may be taking the sting out of their game. Is there more they can do offensively?
Have the Rangers discovered a flaw in Andrei Vasilevskiy’s goaltending?
After withdrawing Vasilevskiy for an extra attacker in the final four minutes, the Lightning seemed to find some answers.
They were able to get pucks past New York’s defence and get shots on goal. Tampa Bay closed the gap to one goal on Nick Paul’s goal, and the Lightning were inches away from tying the game in the waning seconds.
The problem was that it came too late.
If they lose their next two games, they’ll miss the opportunity to go down in history.
Overall, we gave the Lightning an A for effort in Game 2:
There’s no reason why not.
Rangers right wing Ryan Reaves (75) is held back by referees as Lightning centre Ross Colton (79) screams at him during the first period.
As referees restrain Lightning left wing Pat Maroon (14), Lightning centre Ross Colton (79) screams at Rangers right wing Ryan Reaves (75). It’s [DIRK SHADD | Times].
After a scuffle in the faceoff circle, the Rangers’ Ryan Reaves was called for slashing the Lightning’s Pat Maroon, giving the Lightning an early power play.
Nikita Kucherov’s wrist shot from above the right circle bounced off Ryan Lindgren’s stick and went past Igor Shesterkin’s glove in just 10 seconds for the Lightning.
Maroon punched Reaves in the face when he stuck his stick between Maroon’s legs. For an incident that had no influence on the game and would normally result in either both or neither getting sent off, only Reaves was sent to the penalty box.
So, what makes Reaves the sole exception? After the first period, ESPN NHL rules expert Dave Jackson said that punishing a single player helps to prevent similar scrums in the rest of the game, which was evident in the next 40 minutes.
a letter grade of H
Victor Hedman had a bad first period for the Lightning, being minus-1 and leading to another Rangers scoring opportunity as Tampa Bay was behind 2-1 at the end of the first period.
Artemi Panarin intercepted a Hedman pass intended for Jan Rutta and beat him down the ice on a breakaway before firing a shot that Vasilevskiy blocked.
For New York’s second goal of the period, Hedman was penalised for having his stick out of the passing channel as Adam Fox threaded his pass between Hedman and Rutta in the left circle.
As a result of Hedman’s involvement in Mika Zibanejad’s game-winning goal in the third, which came as a direct result of an error by Nikita Kucherov, he was docked two points.
We expect more from the Conn Smythe winner in 2020.
Corey Perry (10), the Lightning’s right wing, reaches for the puck in the second period while Andrei Vasilevskiy (88) and Victor Hedman (77) keep an eye on him.
Corey Perry, 10, of the Lightning, reaches for the puck in the second period while Andrei Vasilevskiy, 88, and Victor Hedman, 77, watch on. It’s [DIRK SHADD | Times].
When trailing by one goal, the Lightning appeared to be on the verge of losing control of the game in the second period, when they were outshot 14-10.
An Alexis Lafrenière shot struck Cal Foote in the shoulder and clanged off the right post early in the game.
Before Corey Perry could get to the puck, Tyler Motte’s shot went through Vasilevskiy’s legs.
After Erik Cernak made a mistake, Ryan McDonagh intercepted a pass from the bottom left circle and ended the 3-on-1.
S, for shaky, is the letter of the grade assigned.
Breaking the fourth wall
Even in games immediately following defeat, Vasilevskiy has proven to be an excellent goaltender.
On Friday, he appeared to be in need of a rest.
On the Rangers’ first shot, Panarin’s breakaway attempt squirmed behind Vasilevskiy before the netminder lunged back to stop the ball.
Six minutes into the game, K’Andre Miller scored a goal that levelled the score at 1. Vasilevskiy should have been able to stop the strike. A shot by Ryan Miller had been blocked by Brandon Hagel, but the puck was redirected to Miller in the high slot. Despite having a perfect view of the rebound effort, Vasilevskiy was unable to save it because it went under his glove.
On a wrist shot from the left circle, Zibanejad beat Vasilevskiy stickside in the third period. The Rangers’ fifth goal in the game was scored on the blocker side, bringing their series total to nine.
After stopping 25 of the 28 shots he faced, including all 14 in the second period, Vasilevskiy was outplayed by Shesterkin for the second time in as many games.