Author: Cam Tucker

Lightning ‘answer the challenge’ in Game 7 to reach Stanley Cup Final


The Tampa Bay Lightning have now dispatched the Detroit Red Wings, Montreal Canadiens and New York Rangers in these Stanley Cup playoffs. So long, Original Six.

They are now off to the Stanley Cup Final, after beating the Rangers 2-0 in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final.

Going into Madison Square Garden, against a team that had not lost a Game 7 in six previous opportunities, or lost a Game 7 on home ice in its history, was apparently not a problem for the Lightning.

“We’ve just kind of got that group,” said Lightning head coach Jon Cooper. “I don’t know if we’re so young and dumb and don’t know any better … it’s hard to explain.

“But they just answer the challenge. Every time we as a staff go in and challenge them, they respond.”

After battling through two scoreless periods, the Lightning finally solved Henrik Lundqvist with a pair of third-period goals and Tampa Bay’s goalie Ben Bishop, who had been hot and cold in this series, was perfect in a 22-save shutout performance.

“Well, we didn’t give them much,” said Bishop.

“Last game they had some open looks, some odd-man rushes and a couple of seeing-eye pucks. And tonight the guys were blocking shots, giving up their bodies, sacrificing, and it makes a big difference when the guys are out there doing that, and it makes it really easy on me.”

Vigneault: McDonagh was playing with a broken foot


New York Rangers’ captain and defenseman Ryan McDonagh was playing with a broken foot “for a couple of games,” said head coach Alain Vigneault, as per the Rangers’ Twitter account.

There was a mysterious beginning to the game for the Rangers and McDonagh, who left the bench and went to the locker room before he had even played a shift on Friday. He eventually returned to the bench and began taking more regular shifts in the second period.

“The freezing hadn’t kicked in, so we weren’t sure if he was going to be able to play,” Vigneault told reporters.

“So, at that time we made the decision to go with seven (defensemen). He went back in right at the start of the first period, and it kicked in a little bit. But he played through a lot of pain.”

While their captain returned to action, the Rangers couldn’t conjure much of an offensive push in a 2-0 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final.

Bolts strike Stanley Cup Final berth thanks to Game 7 win over Rangers


There is a new Eastern Conference champion.

The Tampa Bay Lightning are off to the 2015 Stanley Cup Final, which will mark their first appearance in the championship series since 2004, when they won it all.

WATCH: Full replay of Game 7

Playing a team that had history on its side, the Lightning defeated the New York Rangers in Game 7 by a final score of 2-0. Alex Killorn finally broke a scoreless deadlock less than two minutes into the third period. Ondrej Palat followed that up with the kill shot, beating Henrik Lundqvist on the glove side to give Tampa a two-goal lead.

It was an insurmountable lead.

The Rangers, Stanley Cup finalists a year ago, began the day having been victorious in their last six Game 7 appearances dating back to 2012. And for the first time in their history, the Rangers lost a Game 7 on home ice.

Ben Bishop had allowed five goals in three of his last four starts prior to Friday. After getting pulled in Game 6, he responded with a 22-save shutout in Game 7, the most important start of his career.

Video: Killorn opens scoring, gives Bolts the lead in Game 7


The Tampa Bay Lightning struck first in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final, with Alex Killorn scoring 1:54 into the third period to briefly silence the crowd at Madison Square Garden.

That’s Killorn’s seventh goal of the post-season.

The Lightning and New York Rangers were both unable to get on the board through two periods.

The ‘freak’ Duncan Keith is having ‘a heck of a playoff’


In case you weren’t aware, Duncan Keith is putting together another impressive post-season. It’s a combination of things, from the heavy minutes he logs, to incredible puck possession numbers, to the points.

It’s missing one thing: A trip to the Stanley Cup Final.

That has yet to be determined, and will be, one way or another, on Saturday in Game 7 between the Chicago Blackhawks and Anaheim Ducks.

Keith, 31, leads all NHL players in ice time this post-season, at 31:49 minutes per game. Sure, the Blackhawks have had several marathon overtime games, but Keith, described this spring as a “freak,” has never deteriorated, even with Chicago essentially leaning on four defensemen and playing their No. 5 and 6 blue liners sparingly.

His puck possession numbers are strong, at 56.4 per cent at even strength in the playoffs, according to And he’s rolling along with 16 points in 16 games. His endurance has been something to marvel at, especially now, at this stage in the playoffs.

On Friday, Keith was asked about this ability.

Q: At what point when you were a kid did you know you had good aerobic endurance?

Keith: I don’t know. I just liked to play. When I was a kid we had a lot of outdoor rinks where I grew up. I didn’t really pay attention to my lung capacity. I was eight years old.

Yeah, I don’t really know what to say. I think I’ve always just enjoyed the game. It’s my passion, just like everybody else here in the NHL. I think over the years just working, working hard at it has helped develop certain things.

Head coach Joel Quenneville told reporters there have been seasons when they’ve tried to reduce Keith’s playing time by a few minutes, but they haven’t had the luxury of doing that in certain situations.

“And we find the more he gets, the more he keeps doing it,” said Quenneville. “He’s been great for us. He’s having a heck of a playoff as well.”