The New York Rangers are the best team in hockey when facing elimination as they fight off the Tampa Bay Lighting to force a game seven.

new york rangers force Game seven

It all starts with the Rangers goaltending, as Henrik Lundqvist is simply clutch. Since 2012, the goalie that New York calls “King” is 15-3 in elimination games with 1.39 GAA and a .956 save percentage, according to ESPN.

And last night, he remained calm during an onslaught of 39 shots, saving 36 of them with a save percentage of .923. In fact, one can argue that if Lundqvist did not make a few key saves in the second, then the outcome would have been different.

“We capitalized early on our chances, and after that our goaltender was asked to make some big saves, which he did,” Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. “But in the third period, with our season on the line, we probably played our best period of this series so far. We wanted a chance and we got a chance.”

And the third period was where the floodgates opened as the Rangers scored five goals during a 15 minute time span, with Derrick Brassard’s hat trick stealing the show. The Lightning did answer with two dinky goals in the seventh and 13th minute of the final period, but it was all a little too late.

Despite being outplayed — blueshirts were outshot 39 to 34 — the Rangers’ defense did step up and limit Steven Stamkos, as he only had two of Tampa Bay’s 39 shots.

The third period we weren’t ourselves,” Stamkos stated after the game. “We’re not going to sit here and sulk and feel sorry for ourselves. We have to win a game on the road to get to the Cup finals. We’re confident with our ability to win on the road.”

As for goaltender Ben Bishop, he started the series 8-0 with 1.49 GAA and a .946 save percentage against the Rangers. Over the last six games, he is now 3-3 with a 3.16 GAA and .899 save percentage. He was pulled last night after giving up his third five-goal game of the series.

The Rangers and Lightning next play May 29 to determine the Eastern Conference winner. As for the Western Conference, the Ducks currently lead 3-2 and play tonight for a chance to close the series.

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