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Lightning beat Rangers to maintain three-peat bid alive

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TAMPA, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Lightning’s bid for a three-peat is alive and properly.

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With captain Steven Stamkos main the way in which, the two-time defending champions beat the New York Rangers 2-1 in Sport 6 of the Jap Convention closing Saturday evening, securing a berth within the Stanley Cup Closing for the third straight 12 months.

“It’s going to be powerful to get out of the second and look again and notice what a particular group we now have right here as a result of there’s nonetheless some video games to be performed,” Stamkos mentioned. “You’re nonetheless not on the finish of our aim, however in saying that this group is fairly wonderful and fairly particular.”

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Stamkos scored two objectives and Andrei Vasilevskiy had 20 saves for the Lightning, who gained the collection 4-2 — profitable 4 straight video games after shedding the primary two on the street — and can face the Colorado Avalanche within the Cup closing.

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Sport 1 is Wednesday evening in Denver.

“It’s most likely not the best phrase to make use of, however I’m rattling impressed by this group,” coach Jon Cooper mentioned.

“It’s spectacular what they’ve accomplished. … I’m simply totally impressed by what they do to win a hockey recreation,” he added. “And the truth that they they’ve each excuse on the planet to not win as a result of no person would fault them by saying hey, you gained one, you gained two and to return again and and go for a 3rd. I’m impressed.”

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Stamkos put the Lightning forward for good within the third interval simply 21 seconds after New York’s Frank Vatrano scored on the facility play with the Tampa Bay captain within the penalty field for holding.

Nikita Kucherov and Ondrej Palat assisted on the winner with 6 1/2 minutes left, with the puck deflecting off Stamkos’ knee into the online after Rangers goalie Igor Shesterkin stopped the preliminary shot.

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Stamkos additionally scored on a wrist shot from the highest of the suitable circle halfway by the second interval.

“I clearly was just a little disenchanted in myself for taking the penalty. … It’s simple to say now, however for some cause I wasn’t as rattled as I often am in these conditions,” Stamkos mentioned. “I used to be simply assured in our group that we’d discover a approach, whether or not it was in regulation or was in time beyond regulation. We deserved to win the sport. That was the sensation we had from puck drop.”

The Lightning are the primary crew to make three consecutive appearances within the Cup closing since Edmonton did it from 1983-85. They’re attempting to grow to be the primary to win three straight championships for the reason that New York Islanders claimed 4 in a row from 1980-83.

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The Rangers, down 3-2 in a collection for the third straight spherical, had been 5-0 in elimination video games this postseason earlier than Saturday evening.

The one groups to win extra elimination video games in a single postseason had been the 1975 New York Islanders (eight), 2014 Los Angeles Kings (seven) and 2003 Minnesota Wild (six).

“It’s laborious proper now. However we performed properly, we battled laborious, we had an opportunity to win all these video games,” Rangers coach Gerard Gallant mentioned. “They discovered a solution to get the massive aim on the massive time.”

New York dropped three of the primary 4 video games earlier than profitable three straight elimination video games to beat the Pittsburgh Penguins within the opening spherical. It misplaced the primary two on the street at Carolina earlier than rebounding to oust the Hurricanes in seven video games to achieve the East closing.

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It was a distinct story Saturday evening, with the Lightning limiting New York’s scoring alternatives whereas outshooting the Rangers 31-21.

Vasilevskiy went lengthy stretches with out being examined. He confronted simply seven pictures within the opening interval, six within the second and eight within the third.

Shesterkin, in the meantime, stopped 29 of 31 pictures and made massive save after massive save to offer New York an opportunity.

“I assumed Igor was excellent. He gave us an opportunity to win each evening. We obtained outchanced in a whole lot of the video games, however he was excellent. He was our greatest participant all 12 months lengthy and once more on this collection,” Gallant mentioned.

“Shesterkin was unbelievable. He made some unbelievable saves to maintain them in it, however I feel I simply felt type of a chilled presence due to the group,” Stamkos mentioned. “It was simply a kind of nights the place whether or not it was the following shift after, whether or not I scored or another person scored, it was only a feeling that we had been going to get it accomplished.”

NOTES: The Lightning performed once more with out ahead Brayden Level, who’s missed 10 video games since struggling a lower-body harm throughout Tampa Bay’s Sport 7 victory over Toronto within the first spherical. He was the NHL’s main aim scorer the earlier two postseasons. … Lightning defenceman Victor Hedman exited within the second interval after showing to be elbowed within the head by New York’s Alexis Lafreniere. He returned initially of the third interval.

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