Ryan Dadoun

Kucherov, Drouin push Red Wings to brink of elimination

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Who knows what’s going to happen with Jonathan Drouin this summer, but for now he’s helping the Tampa Bay Lightning succeed in the playoffs despite the absence of Steven Stamkos.

Drouin was involved in all of the Lightning’s goals tonight – picking up an assist in each of them – as Tampa Bay earned a 3-2 victory over Detroit to take a 3-1 series lead. The 21-year-old forward was especially helpful in Tampa Bay’s second and third goals.

Nikita Kucherov, 22, played a major role as well for Tampa Bay with two goals. He now has five goals and seven points in four playoff contests. Ondrej Palat netted the game-winning goal after being scoreless in the first three games.

Detroit’s Darren Helm and Gustav Nyquist each found the back of the net for the first time in this series. Dylan Larkin nearly netted the goal that would have tied this game at 3-3, but it was not to be.

The Red Wings only have one day to rest and regroup before they have to play in a must-win game against the Lightning in Tampa Bay on Thursday. If the Red Wings fall short in that contest, then they will exit in the first round for the third straight year.

Murray only needs to make 16 saves in debut as Penguins top Rangers in Game 3

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The Rangers finally struck first in a playoff game against the Pittsburgh Penguins, but it didn’t stop them from falling behind 3-1 in Game 3 and 2-1 in the series.

New York seemingly had the first goal of the game midway through the first frame, but it was successfully challenged by the Penguins as J.T. Miller was ruled offside. However, Rick Nash gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead with a shorthanded goal early in the second period and this one counted.

Nash struggled in the regular season and has a reputation for coming up short in the playoffs, but he now has a goal and three points in three 2016 postseason contests. His efforts didn’t save the Rangers tonight though as Sidney Crosby tied the game late in the second period and 39-year-old Matt Cullen netted the game-winner at 4:16 of the final frame.

Kris Letang sealed the deal with an empty-netter in the dying seconds of the contest.

With that, 21-year-old goalie Matt Murray has won his playoff debut, although the Rangers only managed 17 shots on him. At the other end of the ice, Henrik Lundqvist turned aside 28 of 30 shots.

Game 4 is scheduled to start at 7:00 p.m. ET on Thursday.

Video: Kucherov scores his league-leading fifth playoff goal

Kucherov goal
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The Detroit Red Wings have rallied back to tie tonight’s game against Tampa Bay going into the second intermission, but the Lightning owe much of the success they’ve had thus far to their power-play efforts and Nikita Kucherov.

Kucherov has scored two power-play goals with the second one coming at 10:30 of the second frame and to that point, those markers accounted for all the Lightning offense in tonight’s contest. Jonathan Drouin assisted on both goals and was of particular importance in the second marker, as you can see below:

That was Kucherov’s fifth goal of the series, which puts him ahead of Florida’s Reilly Smith for the league lead. It also means that Kucherov has accounted for half of the Lightning’s goals in the first round series.

The 22-year-old forward was effective in the regular season too, but he’s been of particular value in the playoffs where he now has 16 goals and 30 points in 32 contests, including the game currently in progress.

Tampa Bay had a 2-1 series lead going into Tuesday’s game.

Video: Rangers goal reversed as Miller was narrowly offside

Offside call
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The New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins went into the first intermission of tonight’s game with a scoreless tie, but that almost wasn’t the case.

Pittsburgh was put into a tough spot when Conor Sheary was assigned a four-minute stint in the sin bin at 12:10 for high-sticking Dominic Moore. It looked like the Rangers scored just as their power-play opportunity was starting when Chris Kreider became the first player to beat rookie goalie Matt Murray in a postseason contest, but the goal was successfully challenged on the grounds that J.T. Miller was offside.

You can see the full event below:

The Penguins were able to kill off the rest of the penalty. In total, the Rangers managed just six shots on goal on Murray in the first frame.

It’s worth noting that the Rangers were 33-5-5 during the regular season when they scored first. Pittsburgh recorded the first goal in each of the first two games of this series.

Rangers get back captain McDonagh earlier than expected

New York Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh (27) is congratulated by right wing Mats Zuccarello (36) after scoring a goal during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Florida Panthers, Wednesday, Dec. 31, 2014, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Terry Renna)
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Ryan McDonagh was labeled as “doubtful” for tonight’s game, but in the end the Rangers blueliner is returning earlier than expected.

The 26-year-old defenseman is projected to be paired with Brady Skjei in Game 3 of the Rangers first round series against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Winning this game would give New York a 2-1 edge and defend the Rangers’ recently gained home ice advantage in the series after they took one in Pittsburgh.

In McDonagh, the Rangers are getting back their captain and their regular season leader in minutes per game (22:21). He hasn’t played since April 4 due to a hand injury.

AHL call-up Raphael Diaz and Dylan McIlrath are both healthy scratches.