For the second straight series in these playoffs, the New York Rangers have forced a Game 7 after facing elimination.
This time, it will be against the Tampa Bay Lightning, with the winner advancing to the Stanley Cup Final.
It didn’t seem like much of a surprise that the Rangers had held on to take a 2-1 lead into the third period. They’ve been in similar situations like that before. But, needing the win, they erupted for five goals, chasing Ben Bishop from the net, in the third period to defeat the Lightning 7-3 in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final.
Derick Brassard recorded the hat trick for New York, capping off a five-point night that started with the opening goal less than four minutes in.
“Honestly I just go out there and I try to just make a difference,” Brassard told NHL.com.
“When I feel like the team needs some support offensively or I feel I need to step up, I just try to do it. I don’t really put any pressure on myself. The disappointment from losing last year I think really hit me from losing the last game at home and facing elimination tonight. We’re not far away to be in the Final again. I just play.”
J.T. Miller and Rick Nash each recorded four-point nights for the Rangers, as well.
The goals came quick in the final period. Miller, James Sheppard and Brassard each scored for New York within the span 4:12, ending the night for Bishop, who allowed five goals on 26 shots.
“That’s why the won the Presidents’ trophy. If you stop thinking about your net for a little bit, that’s what can happen,” said Bishop, as per the New York Daily News.
While the Lightning managed a pair of goals in the third, with New York comfortably ahead at that point, Henrik Lundqvist came up with another strong performance. His biggest save came off Steven Stamkos in the first period, with the Rangers up by a goal.
Shortly after that stop, a left-pad act of denial on one of the league’s best scorers, the Rangers were able to increase their lead, in a physical, at times chippy game.
Stanley Cup finalists a year ago, the Rangers managed to battle back from a 3-1 series deficit in the second round against Washington.
Against Tampa Bay at Madison Square Garden, do the Rangers have another series comeback in them?
We’ll find out Friday.