in a Game 3 dogfight between the Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Rangers, it turned out the home team had just that much more firepower. Tampa Bay barely edged out New York for a 6-5 win and a 2-1 series lead.
The Lightning were led by the "Triplets Line" of Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat and Nikita Kucherov, who combined for four goals and three assists in the win.
After a disappointing 6-2 loss in Game 2, the Rangers came out on Sunday determined to once again dominate possession. For a little while, it appeared they would. New York scored just one minute into the game thanks to a Derick Brassard power play goal, followed a few minutes later by a breakaway goal by Jesper Fast.
Tampa Bay would not go quietly, however. After Steven Stamkos scored midway through the first period, the Lightning proceeded to dominate the next 15 minutes of play. Palat scored a power play goal at 10:32 of the second period and Johnson scored his 12th of the playoffs to give the Lightning their first lead of the game. Alex Killorn, perhaps the best player in Game 3, extended the lead with a goal with three minutes left in the second frame.
Momentum eventually swung back in the Rangers favor, as goals from Fast and captain Ryan McDonagh evened the score again at 4-4. Tampa Bay looked like they had the game sealed up with another late Palat goal, but New York's Dan Boyle tied the game up yet again with less than two minutes left.
At that point, only one member of the Lightning's Triplets Line hadn't scored: Kucherov. He rectified that just four minutes into the overtime period, firing a wrist shot past Henrik Lundqvist to give Tampa Bay a 6-5 win and their first lead of the series.
3 things we learned
1. New York can't stop The Triplets
The line of Palat, Johnson and Kucherov have decimated opposing teams all postseason, and even the vaunted defense of New York is no exception. Johnson and Palat were exceptional once again in Game 3, as their second period goals were the turning point in Tampa Bay's resurgence. And Kucherov's game-winning tally was the perfect cap to a terrific game by the linemates. Tampa Bay's offense firing on all cylinders is a sight to behold.
2. Tyler Johnson continues to impress
To borrow a statement made about teammate Brenden Morrow in 2008, Tyler Johnson is a guy whose name might be on a Conn Smythe trophy when this is all said and done. His second period goal tied him with Brad Richards for most goals (12) in a Lightning postseason. He leads the league in playoff goals and points, and should be a favorite for the Smythe based on his timely playmaking alone.
3. Poor showings from both goalies
As well as both offenses played, their netminders didn't do their part to hold leads. Ben Bishop let a couple of iffy goals in, while Lundqvist let the Lightning retake the lead twice and has now given up 11 goals in the last two games.