2015 Eastern Conference Finals Game 4 Recap
By: Colby Kephart
The New York Rangers bounced back from Game 3 to beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-1 in Game 4 at Amalie Arena on Friday night. The stars for the Rangers showed up with two goals from Rick Nash and one from Martin St. Louis. Henrik Lundqvist had 38 saves, while only allowing one goal. The Rangers also managed to keep Tampa’s Triplet Line off the scoresheet altogether.
The first period saw a better defensive performance from the Rangers as they limited the chances for Tampa. The Lightning’s first true scoring chance came 4 minutes into the period when Nikita Kucherov found the puck in front of Hendrik Lundqvist and shot it over the net. New York took the first penalty of game 8 minutes into the first period when Martin St. Louis was sent to the sin bin for interference.
Tyler Johnson then got a great chance on the power-play, as he found the puck in the front of the net and rang it off the post. About 4 minutes later, Tampa’s Anton Stralman took an interference penalty of his own on a hit delivered to Kevin Hayes. Tampa managed to kill the penalty without even allowing on shot on Ben Bishop. With under 3 minutes left in the period Rick Nash snapped his cold streak with a power move, in which he slid the puck past Bishop’s leg pad into the net. Both teams finished the first period equal in shots on goal with seven apiece.
The second period saw the undisciplined Rangers show up from the first minute when Marc Staal took a holding penalty on Cedric Paquette. While on the penalty kill the Rangers had a great chance with a 2 on 1 that ended up with Nash trying another power move that was denied by Bishop’s pad. Just a few seconds later, Alex Killorn had a breakaway from a stretch pass sent by Victor Hedman on the power play and was denied by Lundqvist. The Rangers killed the penalty, but a few minutes later Killorn got another chance while on a 2 on 1, but the puck slipped off the end of his stick and went wide of Lundqvist.
At this point in the game, it was all one way traffic in favor of Tampa. The Rangers found themselves down a man again, when Chris Kreider took a penalty for tripping Brenden Morrow. Tampa had a few chances on the power play, but the Rangers managed to kill it off again. The Lightning couldn’t be kept off the board long after that though, as Steven Stamkos managed to beat Lundqvist with a slap shot from the slot.
The game didn’t stay tied for long, however, as just 3 minutes later New York regained the lead. Kreider managed to find his 7th goal of the playoffs on what was yet another rebound goal. The Rangers weren’t done however, as two minutes later Keith Yandle got his first of the playoffs, sending a shot that bounced off Hedman past Bishop.
Tampa continued to fire at the net, but Lundqvist remained superior and continued to shine through two periods. After forty minutes of play, Lundqvist had 25 saves on 26 shots. While at the other end of the ice, Bishop was having a rough game, stopping only 10 shots on 13 shots against.
The third period started similar to the second period, as Tampa continued to shoot without any rewards to show for it. The Lightning took their second penalty of the game just 4 minutes into the period with Nikita Nesterov high sticking St. Louis. On the ensuing power play, St. Louis finally got his first of the playoffs, putting a shot in the open side of the net on a back door pass from Derick Brassard.
Halfway through the period Tampa’s Brenden Morrow was called for hooking. The Rangers capitalized again with Yandle’s shot from the point deflected on goal by Kevin Hayes and banged home on the rebound by Nash, past the legs of Bishop, for his second of the night.
The game finished with a lot of scrums from frustrated Lightning players, culminating in a barrage of penalties. Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat, Carl Hagelin, and Ryan McDonagh all received roughing penalties. Severl game misconducts were handed out to a few players, including Nikita Kucherov, Kevin Klein, Morrow, Tanner Glass and Paquette. Eventually time expired, ending Lundqvist’s great night- stopping 38 of 39 shots on goal. It also brought the end of Ben Bishop’s rough night- only stopping 19 of 24 shots on goal.
This game saw the appearance of all of the Rangers superstar’s, Rick Nash, Martin St. Louis, and Henrik Lundqvist. All of them had amazing games in Game 4. St. Louis finally got the all-important first goal of his playoff run, and his play changed immediately afterwards, as he continued to create chance after chance.
Rick Nash had a two goal night, and his form looked as it did during the regular season. Keith Yandle also had a terrific night with a goal and two assists in the best performance of these playoffs for him. The first star of the game still goes to Lundqvist who had a huge bounce back after Game 3’s uncharacteristic performance.
Tampa’s Triplet Line and big stars had a lot of chances, but couldn’t find a way to put the puck to the back of the net. Ben Bishop struggled and the puck didn’t bounce in his favor on Friday night. The series is now tied at 2-2 with it now effectively becoming a best of 3 to see who will represent the Eastern Conference in the 2015 Stanley Cup finals. Game 5 is Sunday at 8 PM with TV coverage on NBCSN.