The New York Rangers entered Game 6 needing a special performance from goalie Henrik Lundqvist.
He was certainly busy in the opening period, making 15 saves on 16 shots, as the Rangers jumped out to the lead in a game they must win to force a Game 7 in the Eastern Conference Final. His best, however, came off Steven Stamkos, as Lundqvist threw out the left pad to deny Tampa Bay’s prolific scorer from in close.
Shortly after that save, the Rangers opened up a two-goal lead.
Facing elimination from the Stanley Cup playoffs, the New York Rangers opened the scoring in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday.
After taking a neat pass from J.T. Miller, Derick Brassard slipped a backhander from in close through the legs of Ben Bishop less than four minutes into the opening period. That’s his seventh goal of these playoffs.
After going without a goal, and held to only one assist, through the first three games of the Western Conference Final, Jonathan Toews finally scored for the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday.
And what a beauty it was, as Toews showed plenty of patience as he roofed the puck over a sprawled Frederik Andersen. That gave the Blackhawks the lead in the third period. They would cough it up, allowing three Anaheim goals in 37 seconds, before coming back and winning in double overtime to even the series.
The pressure had been mounting on Chicago’s top forwards.
Toews has had to go up against Ryan Kesler throughout this series, with the two jousting and slashing and chirping during various moments in Game 4. His line that includes Marian Hossa and Brandon Saad had some dominant shifts, too, and was rewarded in the third period.
“I kind of feel that pressure all the time. I know it’s there. Most of it I put on myself. Just in some ways got to stay patient and not show any frustration or show any sign of anything snowballing in the wrong direction for my own game,” Toews told reporters.
“I think as a line with Hoss and Saad, we generated a lot. Finally got a bounce. That’s what I was waiting for. Made a difference in the game. Hopefully can continue that confidence that scoring gives you. Continue to make big plays. Whether on the goal score, contributing on the play, whatever the situation might be, you know, to try to get our team on the board, but be responsible on the defensive side, as well.”
In a post-game interview with NBC hockey analyst Pierre McGuire immediately following his OT heroics, Vermette admitted it was “not the ideal situation,” but stressed the need for a “good attitude” after being a healthy scratch — a curious decision from head coach Joel Quenneville to say the least — in Game 3.
“They’re so competitive. They want to play in the worst way and they want more ice time, as well,” Quenneville told reporters after the win.
“You can understand where he was at. Very disappointed. He’s a great pro. Stayed with it. That line had a couple looks in overtime. I’m glad he finished it for us. That was a huge goal for us. Huge, goal, huge.”
Vermette scored the winner at 5:37 of the second overtime, pushing the Blackhawks to a 5-4 victory in a thriller against the Anaheim Ducks that evens the Western Conference Final at two games apiece.
Head coach Joel Quenneville explained that his decision to remove Vermette and Teuvo Teravainen on Thursday was to get some “fresh legs” in the lineup.
Back on the ice Saturday, Teravainen contributed an assist on the winner in 18:07 of ice time. But Vermette came through with a huge goal for the Blackhawks, and his second of the post-season, ensuring this series goes a minimum of six games.
Via @EliasSports: @NHLBlackhawks are the first team in NHL history to win 4 games in a single postseason that required at least 2 overtimes.
It also capped off a thoroughly entertaining game that saw six goals scored in 10 minutes in the third period.
The two teams entered the third period tied 1-1. Jonathan Toews, with his first of the series, and Brent Seabrook scored to give Chicago a two-goal lead on home ice. But the Ducks, masters of third-period comebacks in these playoffs, scored three times in 37 seconds to take back the lead in stunning fashion.
Patrick Kane scored on a power play, which had been an area the Blackhawks had struggled in during this series, jamming the puck by Frederik Andersen to eventually send this game to overtime.