2015 Eastern Conference Finals Game 6 Recap
By: Colby Kephart
The New York Rangers defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning 7-3 in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals at Amalie Arena. The first line for The Rangers combined for 13 points with Derick Brassard earning 5 points, with a hat trick and two assists. The Rangers chased Ben Bishop from the game early in the third period.
The first period witnessed the Rangers making the most of their chances facing elimination. The game started with teams exchanging chances, including an early breakaway by Jesper Fast that was broken up by Victor Hedman. The Lightning then brought the puck to the other end and Alex Killorn tried a wrap around that was blocked by Dan Boyle. At 3:36 of the 1st period, Derick Brassard received a great pass from JT Miller and shot it five hole on Ben Bishop, scoring the game’s first goal. It was Brassard’s seventh goal in the playoffs, and tied him for the team lead with Chris Kreider.
Puck luck began to bounce in Tampa’s favor as they got a variety of chances from many players. Hedman had a few chances as he began skating the puck into the offensive zone and putting shots on goal, but Henrik Lundqvist had the answer every time. Another chance came from Ryan Callahan, after he took and sent a shot towards the twine. Again, however, Lundqvist made the save. A few moments later, Marc Staal took the game’s first penalty and was sent to the box for holding the stick of Brenden Morrow.
On the following power play, Steven Stamkos got a point blank opportunity, which was denied by the pad of Lundqvist. The Rangers then killed off the penalty and used the momentum of the moment to go the other direction and score another goal. This time it was a shot from Keith Yandle from the point, which found the back of the net by screens.
This sparked Tampa’s first line as they began throwing their weight around with hit after hit. Steven Stamkos delivered a questionable hit on Ryan McDonagh, which made Chris Kreider try to take disciplining Stamkos into his own hands thereby taking a cross checking penalty. A scrum ensued between Stamkos and Derek Stepan and as a result, both took cross checking penalties with 3 minutes remaining in the period, giving the Lightning a power play.
Ben Bishop sent the puck to Anton Stralman, who found Ryan Callahan on a breakaway. This time Callahan didn’t make a mistake and put it by Lundqvist on the backhand. Tampa had dominated the offense in the first period outshooting New York 16-7. The Rangers made the most of their chances and had the 2-1 lead heading into the first intermission.
The second period was a quiet period, except for the crashing of the bodies into the boards. The physical play escalated quickly into the gams as from the opening faceoff of the second period. The teams exchanged chances with both Ben Bishop and Hendrik Lundqvist playing excellent; keeping both teams off the boards in the early minutes of the period.
About seven minutes into the period, Tampa’s Nikita Kucherov took a hooking penalty and gave New York a power play, which Tampa was able to kill off. The Lightning had some chances after the penalty kill, as Brian Boyle and JT Brown each had chances that were turned aside by Lundqvist. With 3 minutes left in the 2nd period, Brenden Morrow was sent to the box for hooking. On the dying seconds of the penalty kill, Tyler Johnson got a chance, but Lundqvist shut the door and denied a goal. Tampa is still outshooting the Rangers by a big margin, but Lundqvist has been there to answer all of the shots. Lundqvist to this point has stopped 28 of 29 in the game.
New York dominated the third period from puck drop. The Rangers ran out and amassed chance after chance. The Rangers doubled their lead when JT Miller scored his first playoff goal with assists from Brassard and Rick Nash. The Rangers weren’t done yet as James Sheppard got his first of the playoffs at 6:02 of the 3rd period, after winning a battle in the crease.
New York continued to pour it on Tampa as Brassard picked up his second of the night, a minute and fourteen seconds later, with a tap in. The Lightning finally had enough and had to pull Ben Bishop and replace him with Andrei Vasilevskiy, in what was Vasilevsky’s second appearance in the playoffs.
Tampa, discouraged, got going a little as a minute later Nikita Kucherov added his 8th of the playoffs off a faceoff won by Tyler Johnson. Tampa’s Nikita Nesterov took a penalty for slashing Derick Brassard. This time, New York’s power play unit was successful, putting out Tampa’s spark, as Rick Nash scored a PP goal with help from Yandle and Miller halfway through the period, making it 6-2. Unlike the rest of his teammate’s, Nikita Kucherov didn’t give up as he scored again from a beautiful saucer pass from Tyler Johnson to make it 6-3.
With almost 6 minutes remaining in the period the Lightning pulled their goalie for a man advantage. At 15:36 of the 3rd period, Dan Girardi took a penalty for delay of game giving the Lightning a power play and a two man advantage with the net empty. The Rangers killed off the penalty and 18:19 of the 3rd, Derick Brassard hit the empty net to complete the hat trick and cap off a 5 point night.
The Rangers line of Brassard, Nash and Miller had a tremendous night with Brassard leading the way with 3 goals and 2 assists. However, Nash and Miller helped out too, with each getting a goal and 3 assists. Henrik Lundqvist also had a decent performance, with help from the Rangers defensemen. The Rangers numbers abounded broken up passes and Tampa’s offense couldn’t get anything started when every pass was broken up. Game 7 will be at Madison Square Garden on Friday, May 29th, 2015 with coverage on NBCSN at 8 pm.