So much for first period of New York Rangers – Tampa Bay Lightning being the wildest twenty minutes we’ve seen in some time.
The middle frame has been every bit as wild, although the two teams traded some violence for even more end-to-end action. It’s the kind of hockey where huge saves by both goalies (especially Henrik Lundqvist’s high-difficulty glove save on Steven Stamkos) get lost in the shuffle.
In a little more than seven minutes, there was a four-goal outburst, with three coming from the Bolts. We enter the final stretch with Tampa Bay up 4-3 thanks in large part to great work from Ondrej Palat, Tyler Johnson and Victor Hedman.
Johnson first set up Palat:
Palat then returned to the favor, although Hedman created havoc as well:
Lundqvist has been turning away quite a few Alex Killorn chances, but Steven Stamkos’ running mate finally got one through for a short-lived 4-2 lead:
It didn’t last long, as people brought out their rapid puns thanks to this Jesper Fast goal, his second tally of the night:
(Click here for an even prettier Fast goal.)
Ultimately the Lightning can earn a 2-1 series lead if they can maintain their lead in the final frame. That might mean scoring a goal or two, though, as this game has been a serious track meet.
The New York Rangers’ second goal was bad news for the Tampa Bay Lightning for reasons that extend beyond the scoreboard. It looks like Matt Carle was injured during a collision with Derek Stepan, as you can see most clearly around the 50-second mark of the goal replay:
It’s considered an undisclosed injury, according to various outlets.
Stepan seemed a little shaken up by that collision, but he’s been able to play since that happened.
The Lightning dressed seven defensemen, so the one bright side for Tampa Bay is that they can still put three different blueline pairings on the ice through Game 3. They’re still down a skater though, obviously.
This just in: Steven Stamkos doesn’t just shoot the puck hard.
The Tampa Bay Lightning forward can deliver a big hit every now and then, as hulking New York Rangers forward Kevin Hayes learned early in Game 3. Here’s video of that check, if you want to make your own judgments regarding whether it’s clean or not.
Stamkos didn’t receive a penalty on the play. Shortly after that check, Dominic Moore sat in the box for two minutes after cross-checking Tyler Johnson. Things are getting a little nasty so far in this contest.
If you’d like to see that Stamkos hit on Hayes in GIF form, check it out here:
Stamkos is definitely making his presence felt, as he also scored a key goal for Tampa Bay, shrinking the Rangers’ lead to 2-1.
Enough action for you?
The Tampa Bay Lightning survived early penalty trouble against the New York Rangers in Game 2, but the story was different in Game 3.
Cedric Paquette took a foolish penalty in the opening moments. Chris Kreider blocked the vision of towering Bolts netminder Ben Bishop and Derick Brassard made no mistake about this 1-0 goal:
There were a lot of fireworks in Game 2, yet Game 1 finished 2-1. If this contest is more like most of the Rangers’ games in this postseason, then that 1-0 goal could be big.
Update: Jesper Fast scored one of the prettiest goals you’ll see, with a very nice pass from Kreider:
That briefly gave the Rangers a 2-0 lead, but Steven Stamkos made an impact with a big hit and even bigger goal, so now New York is up 2-1.
Note: In the very beginning of that goal clip (and more clearly about 50 seconds in), you can see Derek Stepan and Matt Carle collide. That opened the door for Fast’s goal to some extent, but it’s possible both players might have gotten hurt on that play. Two of a few possible injury issues to watch after a hectic first period …
Much like in Game 2, the Tampa Bay Lightning are rolling with 11 forwards and seven defensemen against the New York Rangers tonight.
That more or less means that promising blueliner Nikita Nesterov will remain in the mix, while Jonathan Drouin and his questioned defense prowess will not.
Apparently going with an extra defenseman and one fewer forward has worked out quite well for the Bolts: