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.
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.
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.