In what I thought was going to be a thrilling Game 5 at MSG, the Tampa Bay Lightning took a 3-2 series lead against the New York Rangers. The Rangers have been incredible at home, they won their last 8 home games, but they just could not find that spark tonight. It was more late-period daggers and enough near misses to raise your blood pressure.
This game started slow. Through the first 8 minutes, both the Rangers and Lightning had just one shot a piece. Yeah, slow. Andrei Vasilevskiy did the most work, he kept all 8 of the Rangers’ shots out of the net. Meanwhile, Igor Shesterkin only had to stop 3 shots.
Things got interesting in the second period when we saw some actual goals scored. Even then it took until a little after the halfway mark of the game for Ryan Lindgren‘s nice top cheese shot to make a difference:
The Lightning took this as their chance to flip the momentum in their direction. Seven minutes after Lindgren’s goal, Mikhail Sergachev scored his first goal of the playoffs to tie things up. This goal helped the Lightning bounce back after a slow first period. They ended up putting up 13 shots in that period but Shesterkin held them to the one goal. The Rangers did put up 8 shots on net but they missed easy chances to take control. It bit them in the ass in the end.
Onto the third period, we were stuck in another back and forth battle. Things seemed to be going smoothly but the Rangers could not buy a goal. They missed so many of those easy chances, open nets, and they got shut out because of that. In the final 3 minutes, Ondrej Palat scored the late-minute dagger. Brandon Hagel added to that with an empty netter to make this a 3-1 final score.
This has happened to the Rangers before. They can’t muster up any energy and in those crucial dying minutes, they paid the price. All over the board, another messy game for the Rangers. Going home to MSG was a saving grace, they play phenomenal at home but they just could not get the job done tonight. Going into Game 6, it’s do or die, there is no room for error like this. Their energy came in after the final bell, it’s time to get that in the 60 minutes prior to save their season and get a chance to go home (even if they subsequently screw over Justin Bieber).
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