NHL Eastern Conference Finals Game Five: Tampa Bay Lightning at New York Rangers

2015 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs
Eastern Conference Finals Game #5
#2 Tampa Bay Lightning at #1 New York Rangers
Best of Seven Series Tied 2-2
Sunday, May 24, 2015, 8:05 pm Eastern, TV: NBC Sports
Madison Square Garden – New York City, New York
Opening Line: New York -140 / Tampa Bay +120
Current Line: New York -140 / Tampa Bay +120
Opening Total: over 5 -110 / under 5 -110
Current Total: over 5 -115 / under 5 -105

The Rangers and Lightning are tied at 2-2 in the Eastern Conference Finals.
The Rangers and Lightning are tied at 2-2 in the Eastern Conference Finals.

The Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Rangers have split the first four games of the Eastern Conference Finals, with each winning a game on the road and at home. Now the series is a best of three, and game five is Sunday in New York.

New York, coached by Alain Vigneault, won the President’s Cup for having the best record in the league during the regular season with a 53-22-7 record and 113 points. The Rangers easily won the Metropolitan Division. In the playoffs the Rangers beat the wild card Pittsburgh Penguins 4-1 in the first round and the #2 seed Washington Capitals in seven games in the conference semifinals. The Rangers trailed the series 3-1 against the Capitals but won 3 straight games including game seven in overtime. Nine of their sixteen post season games have been 2-1 games this season, including 7 wins for the Rangers.

Tampa Bay, coached by Jon Cooper, finished second in the Atlantic Division with a 50-24-8 record and 108 points, two points behind the Montreal Canadiens. The Lightning beat the #3 seed Detroit Red Wings in seven games in the first round, despite trailing 3-2 in the series. Tampa Bay took a 3-0 series lead against the Canadiens in the second round, but ended up winning the series in six games. Tampa Bay is back in the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since 2011.

In game one of this series, New York won game one with a 2-1 victory at home. Tampa Bay would win the next two including 6-2 in game two, and 6-5 in overtime in game three. The Rangers faced a virtual must win in game four Friday night in Tampa Bay. New York responded with a 5-1 rout to regain home ice.

Rick Nash scored for the Rangers late in the first to give New York a 1-0 lead in game four, assisted by Kevin Hayes and Carl Hagelin. It was the first point he recorded in this series after leading the Rangers in scoring during the regular season. In the second period, Steven Stamkos tied it up 11 minutes into the period, assisted by Alex Killorn and Valtteri Filppula. Chris Kreider gave the Rangers the lead for good four minutes later, assisted by Kevin Klein and Keith Yandle. Yandle scored two minutes later, assisted by Klein and Nash. Martin St. Louis added a power play goal for the Rangers five minutes into the third assisted by Derick Brassard and Dan Boyle. Both Boyle and St. Louis played for the Lightning for many years, and were part of Tampa Bay’s Stanley Cup winning team in 2004. Nash added another power play goal assisted by Hayes and Yandle.

After giving up six goals in both games two and three, New York goalie Henrik Lundqvist was amazing in game four. He made 38 saves on 39 shots faced. Tampa Bay goalie Ben Bishop struggled, allowing 5 goals on 24 shots. New York was 2/4 on the power play and Tampa Bay was 0/4. The Lightning had 32 hits to 30 for the Rangers. New York had 22 turnovers to 17 for Tampa Bay. Tampa Bay won 31 faceoffs to 24 for New York.

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New York is outscoring teams 2.38-2.12 in the playoffs. The Rangers are 12/53 (22.6%) on the power play in the playoffs and 36/44 (81.8%) on the penalty kill. The rangers have allowed one short handed goal in the playoffs. New York averages 31.6 shots per game and allow 30.2 per game.

New York goaltender Henrik Lundqvist is 10-6 in the playoffs with a 2.05 goals against average. He has a .930 save percentage with no shutouts. He has been the only goalie for the Rangers in the playoffs.

Center Derek Stepan has 5 goals and 7 assists. Derick Brassard has 6 goals and 5 assists for the Rangers.  Rick Nash has 4 goals and 6 assists.  Ryan McDonagh has 3 goals and 6 assists. Chris Kreider has 7 goals and 2 assists. Dan Boyle has 3 goals and 6 assists.  Former Tampa Bay captain Martin St. Louis, Yandle and Fast all have at least six points in the playoffs. Left wing Mats Zuccarello is questionable with a concussion.

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Tampa Bay is outscoring teams 2.82-2.47 in the playoffs this season. The Lightning are #4 in scoring and #5 in goals allowed. The Lightning are 14/66 (21.2%) on the power play in the playoffs and 48/60 (80%) on the penalty kill. The Lightning have 3 short handed goals and have allowed 2. Tampa Bay averages 28.5 shots per game and opponents average 28.2.

Goalie Ben Bishop is 10-7 in the playoffs with a 2.21 goals against average. He has a save percentage of .918 with one shutout. Bishop was benched in one of the games against Montreal in favor of Andrei Vasilevskiy.

Center Tyler Johnson has 12 goals and 6 assists. Nikita Kucherov has 7 goals and 9 assists. Steven Stamkos has 6 goals and 9 assists. Alex Killorn has 6 goals and 9 assists. Ondrej Palat has 6 goals and 7 assists. Victor Hedman has a goal and 9 assists in the playoffs. Valtteri Filppula has 2 goals and 7 assists. Former Rangers captain Brian Callahan is playing after undergoing an appendectomy last week. He has 3 assists in the playoffs.

Tampa Bay is 4-1 after a loss by 3 or more goals, 7-2 after scoring 2 goals or less, 10-3 on one day rest, 6-2 in Sunday games, and 5-2 in road games. Tampa Bay is 6-2 against the Rangers recently including 4-1 in New York.

New York is 4-1 at home, 11-3 after scoring 5 goals or more, 39-15 in Sunday games, 52-21 overall, 37-15 against Eastern Conference teams, 36-15 after a win, 35-16 after allowing two goals or less, 65-30 against teams with losing road records, and 39-18 on one day rest. The over is 6-1 in this series recently.

Both goalies have been inconsistent in this series. Sometimes they look fantastic, and sometimes below average to say the least. I think the Rangers win a close game in game five, perhaps in overtime.

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