Video: Lundqvist helps lead Rangers back to New York for Game 7

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An ideal start is what the New York Rangers got off to on Tuesday, in a game they needed to win, on the shoulders of Henrik Lundqvist.

Sure, the Rangers converted a pair of goals, including one of Derick Brassard’s three on the night, to take the lead. Those two goals came on seven shots, while the Tampa Bay Lightning, with a chance to earn a berth in the Stanley Cup Final, fired 16 toward Lundqvist.

He made 28 saves through two periods, including this left-pad stop on Steven Stamkos.

Former Ranger Ryan Callahan was the only Tampa Bay player to get a puck by Lundqvist until the third period.

Tampa bay was in chase mode by the time they solved Lundqvist. The Rangers have, once again, forced a Game 7.

“It’s really the best feeling,” Lundqvist told the Toronto Sun.

“It’s a lot of adrenalin and pressure and you’re nervous going into these games. You have to enjoy it. Everything on the line again, playing in front of our fans, there is not a better feeling than to have a big game at home.”

 

A storm brewing: Rangers rally to force Game 7 with Lightning (Video)

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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.

Video: Callahan finally snaps playoff scoring slump to cut into Rangers lead

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Ryan Callahan was closing in on two full months without a goal. He finally snapped his personal scoring slump in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final on Tuesday.

Callahan, who last scored back on April 4 during the regular season, beat Henrik Lundqvist with a move to the backhand on a power play breakaway just 1:50 after the New York Rangers opened up a two-goal lead.

By the way, that is a terrific pass up the middle from Anton Stralman.

Video: Lundqvist stones Stamkos with left-pad save

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.

In defense of Yandle, who’s ‘trying to make some plays’

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Keith Yandle tried to make a play.

Unfortunately, it ended up on the stick of Steven Stamkos, right in front of the Rangers’ net…

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Thank goodness for Henrik Lundqvist.

But the fact no goal was scored didn’t stop reporters from asking Rangers coach Alain Vigneault what he’s seen from Yandle the past couple of games.

“He’s working extremely hard,” replied Vigneault. “He’s trying to make some plays. With the pressure sometimes our D are under, (it’s) a little bit more challenging to make the right play. But he’s got the right idea.”

Vigneault was then asked about the challenge of making the right play under pressure.

“It’s a big challenge,” he said. “It’s the biggest team that we’ve met this year, and not just when they have the puck, but when they don’t have it, they are quick to put pressure. You’ve got to have
your head up. You’ve got to be thinking a play ahead, and you’ve got to make the right plays.”

The fact is, puck-moving defensemen like Yandle are going to make the odd giveaway. P.K. Subban led the league in giveaways by defensemen during the regular season. Erik Karlsson and Drew Doughty were up there, too. Those players aren’t out there to clear it high off the glass, and give it right back to the opposition. They’re out there to make plays, with the intention of keeping possession and going on the attack.

On top of that, with more and more teams bringing their defensemen down the wall to pressure wingers on the breakout, more and more plays need to be made in the middle of the ice, right in the danger area. So get your stick on the ice, Kevin Hayes. Be ready for the pass.

That’s not to let Yandle off the hook entirely. When Stamkos is lurking, putting the puck in the danger area is a pretty big risk. There were probably better options available, like spinning off the forecheck and skating with the puck behind the net. But that’s easy to say in hindsight. Also, easier said than done. (“Oh, just spin off the forecheck next time.”)

Yandle had his struggles adjusting to a new system after joining the Rangers in a late-season trade from Arizona. It hasn’t been all struggles though. He had two points in Game 3 versus the Lightning and three more in Game 4.

“We need him tonight to find a way to get a couple more pucks to the net, and we’ll be in good shape,” said Vigneault.