The New York Rangers followed up two consecutive blowout losses with one of their best games of the playoffs, evening up the Eastern Conference Final at 2-2 with a 5-1 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 4.
Henrik Lundqvist was excellent in net, allowing just one goal while getting pelted with 39 shots. Rick Nash, Kevin Klein and Keith Yandle all led the Rangers with two points apiece.
New York had to wait awhile for its first lead of the night, but it was a dandy. At 17:04 of the first period, Nash lowered his shoulder and forced his way to the net to score a pretty backhand goal on Lightning goalie Ben Bishop. Tampa Bay tied the game up midway through the second period with a Steven Stamkos goal, but the Rangers took over from there.
From that point on, the Lightning had no answers for the Rangers' offense. Chris Kreider and Yandle each scored later in the second period to give the Rangers a decent lead. When the Lightning encountered penalty problems in the third period, New York pounced again. Both Martin St. Louis and Nash scored on the man advantage to give the Rangers a commanding 5-1 lead that would hold until the final whistle.
3 things we learned
1. Lundqvist backs up his words
After two lackluster games, the Rangers netminder vowed to play better in his crease. He followed through, playing far more aggressively and confidently while allowing only one goal on 39 shots. It was one of his best performances of the playoffs, which is saying something.
2. Stamkos is heating up, but he was all alone
After going goalless in his first eight playoff games, Stamkos has six goals in his last nine. Which is great, but it amounted to little with the rest of the super-talented offensive Lightning players being kept off the scoreboard. Tampa Bay is no longer a one-man team, and Stamkos needed some help in Game 4.
3. This series might go seven
Through four games, the momentum of the Eastern Conference Final has swung wildly back and forth between the two combatants. The Rangers doubted themselves after two routs, but Game 4's dominance proved they can score and keep the puck away from Tampa just fine. And the Lightning have already proven the same against New York. We might be in for a long series, which is just fine by us. It's been highly entertaining thus far.