After getting outplayed in the first two games to the New York Rangers on the road in a crushing 6-4 loss in Game 1, and 3-2 loss in Game 2, the two-time defending back-to-back Stanley Cup champions, Tampa Bay Lightning returned home Sunday at the Amalie Arena and took care of business, winning 3-2 in Game 3. After getting outplayed in the first two games, the Lightning responded emphatically, outshooting the Rangers 52-30, including 19-6 in the final period.
It all looked like the Rangers were going to take a commanding 3-0 lead, leading 2-0 midway through the second period off power-play goals from their All-Star center Mika Zibanejad, and winger Chris Kreider. The Lightning fed off the energy of their home crowd and were able to rally back off two power-plays from their star right winger, Nikita Kucherov, and center Steven Stamkos.
The Lightning would hammer in a dagger off a Ondrej Palat goal in the beginning of the third period. After the game, Rangers head coach, Gerard Gallant, stated "I just think they were ready to compete a little harder than we were. That was the difference in the hockey game. You can say matchups, you can say different stuff, but overall I think their compete level was a little higher than ours. We have to match that tomorrow, get above it."
The Rangers will now look to take Game 4 and a commanding 3-1 lead to go back home in Game 5 to try to clinch a spot in the Stanley Cup Finals. Meanwhile, the Lightning would look to make this series even more interesting in Game 4 by trying to tie it at two apiece and make it a best two out of three the rest of the way. It won’t be easy though, as the Rangers are very young, talented, and are battle tested, coming back from a 3-1 series deficit against the Pittsburgh Penguins, and a 2-0 deficit against the Carolina Hurricanes in the semifinal round to come back and win both.
The Lightning will have to control their turnovers and not have a performance like Game 1 where they had 28 turnovers/giveaways, which is not going do you any favors against a resilient, tough, hungry Rangers team who are looking to win their first Stanley Cup since 1994, and make their first appearance in the Cup since they lost in six games in 2014 against the Los Angeles Kings.
Will the youthful, stirring Rangers find a way to respond in Game 4 and take a commanding 3-1 lead? Or will the Lightning’s experience in responding to adversity like they have the last two seasons en route to back-to-back Stanley Cups serve them well in a situation like this to tie it 2-2?
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