2015 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs
Eastern Conference Finals Game #6
#1 New York Rangers at #2 Tampa Bay Lightning
Lightning Lead Best of Seven Series 3-2
Tuesday, May 26, 2015, 8:05 pm Eastern, TV: NBC Sports
Amalie Arena – Tampa Bay, Florida
Opening Line: Tampa Bay -135 / New York +115
Current Line: Tampa Bay -135 / New York +115
Opening Total: over 5 -110 / under 5 -110
Current Total: over 5 -115 / under 5 -105
The Tampa Bay Lightning are one win away from returning to the Stanley Cup Finals since they won the only Cup in franchise history in 2004. Tampa Bay won Sunday at Madison Square Garden against the New York Rangers to take a 3-2 lead in the Eastern Conference Finals. Game Six is Tuesday in Tampa Bay. The Rangers will look to force a game seven Friday 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.
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 took 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 in Tampa Bay. New York responded with a 5-1 rout to regain home ice. The series returned to New York for game five Sunday night.
Tampa Bay goalie Ben Bishop had struggled the previous two games giving up five goals in each game. He showed up in game five though. Neither team would score in the first period. The Lightning struck first with a goal 13 minutes into the second period on a goal from Valtteri Filppula, assisted by Steven Stamkos and Anton Stralman. Stamkos added a power play goal five minutes later, assisted by Ondrej Palat and Nikita Kucherov. It would be more than enough as Bishop recorded his second shutout of the playoffs. Tampa Bay would not score again either.
Bishop had 26 saves. New York goalie Henrik Lundqvist made 20 saves on 22 shots. The Lightning were 1/3 on the power play and the Rangers were 0/4. Each team had 29 hits and 13 turnovers. Tampa Bay won 24 faceoffs to 15 for New York.
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New York is outscoring teams 2.24-2.12 in the playoffs. The Rangers are 12/57 (21%) on the power play in the playoffs and 38/47 (80.8%) on the penalty kill. The Rangers have allowed one short handed goal in the playoffs. New York averages 31.2 shots per game and allow 29.8 per game.
New York goaltender Henrik Lundqvist is 10-7 in the playoffs with a 2.06 goals against average. He has a .929 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 2.78-2.33 in the playoffs this season. The Lightning are 15/69 (21.7%) on the power play in the playoffs and 52/64 (81.2%) on the penalty kill. The Lightning have 3 short handed goals and have allowed 2. Tampa Bay averages 28.1 shots per game and opponents average 28.1.
Goalie Ben Bishop is 11-7 in the playoffs with a 2.08 goals against average. He has a save percentage of .922 with two shutouts. 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 10 assists. Steven Stamkos has 7 goals and 10 assists. Alex Killorn has 6 goals and 9 assists. Ondrej Palat has 6 goals and 8 assists. Victor Hedman has a goal and 9 assists in the playoffs. Valtteri Filppula has 3 goals and 7 assists. Former Rangers captain Brian Callahan is playing after undergoing an appendectomy last week. He has 3 assists in the playoffs.
New York is 5-1 in Tuesday games, 29-10 in road games, 52-22 overall, 37-16 against Eastern Conference teams, 41-18 after scoring 2 goals or less, 35-17 after scoring 2 goals or less, 39-19 on one day rest, and 2-5 against Atlantic teams. The road team is 7-3 in this series recently. The over is 6-2 overall in the series and 4-0-1 in Tampa between the teams.
Tampa Bay is 8-2 after scoring 2 goals or less, 11-3 on one day rest, 7-2 after allowing 2 goals or less, 40-15 at home, 5-2 against Metropolitan teams, 9-4 overall and against Eastern Conference teams. The Lightning have won 7 of the last 9 against the Rangers.
Both teams should treat this like a game seven. New York has to win obviously, but Tampa Bay doesn’t want to risk a game seven at Madison Square Garden. The Rangers are so resilient though, and just like against the Capitals, I think the Rangers will play their best hockey when facing elimination. I think Lundqvist has a dominant game and New York forces game seven.
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