2015 Eastern Conference Finals Game 1 Recap
By: Colby Kephart
The New York Rangers and Tampa Bay Lightning Eastern Conference Finals Game 1 saw the Rangers win 2-1 having scored late goals in both the second and third period. The goal scoring was open by the red hot Derek Stephan with just 12.7 second remaining in the second period. Tampa Bay then evened the game with a power play goal from Ondrej Palat with under seven minutes to go in the second period. Dominic Moore gave the Rangers the lead on his game-winning goal with only 2:25 remaining in the game, in front of the packed Madison Square Garden.
The first period began with an explosive start by both teams with Tampa registering a shot on goal in the first minute of play and the first three shots of the game. The Rangers got their first shot of game about two and half minutes into the period and created a lot of opportunities that were denied by Ben Bishop.
A few key chances came from Rangers forward, Kevin Hayes, after he hit the post with a shot. About eight minutes into the period, another big chance for New York’s, Derek Stepan, on a break away was denied with the left pad by Bishop. The Rangers outshot Tampa 11 to 7 in the energetic first period. Both teams played a disciplined game through the first period, with no penalties called on either team.
Tampa started off fast and the Rangers finished strong in the second period. The Lightning had a great opportunity in the first minute of the second period, with Alexander Killorn putting the puck just wide of the net. The second period was full of odd man rushes in both directions and saw Bishop and Henrik Lundqvist making great saves.
About 4 minutes into the period the Rangers took the first penalty of game, JT Miller was sent to the box with a minor penalty for slashing. Seconds later, Tampa’s Ondrej Palat took a penalty for tripping Dan Girardi behind the net. Five minutes later Tampa took another penalty for too many men on the ice. This sparked a great New York power play, with great chances from Martin St. Louis and Derick Brassard.
The intensity also picked up throughout the period, with some rough stuff and scrums after the whistle. Just as it looked like the second period was going to finish like the first, Stepan found a rebound off Bishop and put in the net with 12.7 seconds remaining. Stepan’s goal was assisted by Chris Kreider and Ryan McDonagh. The Rangers continued to outshoot Tampa 22-19 at the end of forty minutes.
Tampa came out strong, once again, to begin the third period, with Palat netting a power play goal. Palat’s goal was assisted by Victor Hedman and Tyler Johnson about 7 minutes into the period and made the game 1-1. The Rangers struggled with discipline in the third having taken 3 penalties. McDonagh took a penalty for high sticking Tyler Johnson and the Lightning capitalized on it, just 5 minutes into the period.
Kreider took penalty a few minutes later for holding the stick. The Rangers killed the penalty similar to a penalty taken by Dominic Moore with just five minutes remaining in the game. Then Moore came out of the box and scored with just over two minutes remaining. The assists were given to Kevin Hayes and Derick Brassard. The Rangers then closed off the game with the win despite not finding the empty net. The Rangers outshot Tampa 31-24 at the end of the sixty minute effort.
The biggest takeaway from this game was the stellar goaltending from Bishop and Lundqvist. Ben Bishop had 29 saves on 31 shots for a .933 save percentage and “King Henrik” stop 23 of 24 for a .958 save percentage. Both goals scored on Bishop were scrappy goals- the game winner just bounced off Dominic Moore’s leg. The only goal Lundqvist gave up was a power play goal that was absolutely sniped by Palat.
Finally, another factor was the number of turnovers the Rangers caused for Tampa’s defensemen in their own zone. The Rangers caused a lot of havoc for Tampa and the turnovers created half the chances the Rangers had to score. Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals will be Monday, May 18th 2015 at 8 pm at Madison Square Garden and televised on NBCSN.