With Ben Bishop allowing five goals in each of his last two starts for the first time since March 2011, Bolts’ head coach Jon Cooper was asked on Saturday whether he’d consider a change in goal ahead of Game 5 Sunday night in New York.
“I understand your question,” Cooper said of a potential change in goal. “For someone to sit here and say, are we changing (in) goal? That is asinine to me.”
Bishop has 5.00 G.A.A. and an .807 save percentage as the Lightning split a pair of games on home ice.
“You never like to give up five goals in back-to-back games, but the best part is we’ve got another game,” said Bishop following Friday’s 5-1 loss.
The 28-year-old has a 3.50 G.A.A. and an .882 save percentage through the first four games of the series.
“He’s a great goaltender and we lean on him a lot, and we expect him to be better as we expect our team to play better,” said defenseman Braydon Coburn.
Added Jason Garrison: “I think he’s probably not happy about that, and I don’t think any of his teammates are really, so collectively as a team we’ve got to make sure that doesn’t happen. You can’t win in the playoffs very much letting those kind of goals up.”
Game 5 goes Sunday night at MSG. Puck drop is at 8 p.m. ET on NBCSN.
After the Rangers’ 2-1 victory in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final, the question of if New York could keep this up was raised
. To that point the Rangers had been averaging just two goals per game and while they had been getting results with that minimal offensive output, there hasn’t been a team dating back to 1998 that’s won the Stanley Cup with an offense that anemic.
The three contests that have followed have been wild and a complete deviation from the type of games that we saw in the Rangers’ first two rounds. The sheer number of offensive weapons at the Lightning’s disposal has made them hard for the Rangers to contain even after their strong showings against Sidney Crosby’s Pittsburgh Penguins and Alex Ovechkin’s Washington Capitals. However, the Rangers were able to nearly match the Lightning blow-for-blow in Game 3 and then in Game 4 everything worked out for New York in a 5-1 victory.
The fact that the Rangers are scoring is big by itself, but it’s the players that stepped up that has to be particularly encouraging for them. Rick Nash and Martin St. Louis are star forwards, but they haven’t been major factors offensively in the playoffs. That changed in Game 4 when they combined for three goals and four points.
That has to be a relief for both of them.
“The games keep piling on, you get chances — of course you’re pressing,” said St. Louis, per the Tampa Bay Times. “The guys who tell you they don’t press, they’re lying.”
He also admitted that ended a goal drought gives him “a second wind,” per Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston.
The question now is if Nash and St. Louis can build off of Friday’s strong showing. If they can, then Tampa Bay will have a tough time winning this series. However, the Lightning remain a dangerous team and if two of the Rangers’ top forwards immediately go cold again, then that could be a serious problem for New York.
With the outcome of the game already decided in favor of the Rangers, Tampa Bay and New York engaged in several skirmishes over the final minutes of play.
The Lightning’s Nikita Kucherov and Cedric Paquette as well as the Rangers’ Tanner Glass were all handed misconducts in the third period while 10 other minor penalties were issued over the span of just 2:25 minutes. You can see all of that below:
That’s the most late-game trouble these two squads have gotten into so far in the Eastern Conference Final and it will be interesting to see if that bleeds into Game 5 on Sunday. One thing is certain: With the series tied at 2-2, the stakes are very high going into that contest.