It’s amazing how one goal can change the complexion of a playoff series.
If the New York Rangers had scored in the final minute of the third period in Sunday’s game, they could be looking to complete a four-game sweep of the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions. Instead, it was Ondrej Palat scoring his franchise-record 10th game-winning playoff goal with 41 seconds left to play to give the Tampa Bay Lightning what could be a season-saving victory.
The teams will be back at Amalie Arena on Tuesday with the Lightning looking to even the series. The Rangers are just 2-6 on the road in the postseason and are tied for the most road losses in these playoffs. New York is being outshot by an average of 36-28 away from home in the playoffs.
Tampa Bay rebounded from a disappointing Game 2 performance to set a team record for the most shots on goal (52) in a regulation game in the postseason. Six different players had five shots on goal and four of them (Alex Killorn, Steven Stamkos, Victor Hedman and Ryan McDonough) are older than 30.
According to the NHL betting lines, the Rangers’ odds to win the Stanley Cup championship dropped from +250 to +400 while the Lightning’s odds went from +650 to +400. The series price is now -140 in favor of the Rangers.
Veterans Deliver for Lightning
Considering that just four times in NHL history that teams have won postseason series after dropping the first three games, Sunday’s game was viewed as a must-win game for Tampa Bay.
It didn’t look good when Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider scored power-play goals in a span of 2:07 in the second period to give the visiting Rangers a 2-0 lead. Nikita Kucherov, Tampa Bay’s top point producer in playoffs, cut the lead in half just over a minute after Kreider’s goal. Tampa Bay captain Stamkos tied things up early in the third period to set the stage for a wild finish.
Kucherov’s nifty pass set up Palat as he moved into a tie for the team lead with his sixth goal in the playoffs with 41 seconds to play to give Tampa Bay the 3-2 win. Kucherov had a goal and two assists for his seventh multi-point game in the playoffs. Tampa Bay is 5-2 in those contests.
We’re simply not talking enough about this Kuch 🍎 pic.twitter.com/dr5osS6LO0
— Tampa Bay Lightning (@TBLightning) June 5, 2022
“He’s been an electrifying player,” Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper said of Kucherov. “He’s got two Stanley Cup rings. I think when teams go that far, each team has those types of players on them, and that’s what Kuch is. He’s a unique, special talent.”
The Las Vegas odds total has gone under in seven of Tampa Bay’s last eight games.
Rangers Still in Control
Following the goals by Zibanejad and Kreider, the New York Rangers were on the verge of putting the Tampa Bay Lightning on the brink of playoff elimination as Game 3 hit the midway point.
However, Tampa Bay didn’t win the last two Stanley Cup titles by shying away from a challenge. The Lightning outshot the Rangers 26-10 the rest of the way, beating Rangers goalie Igor Shesterkin three times.
The Rangers squandered a glorious opportunity to regain the lead in the third period when Tampa Bay’s Kucherov was called for a double minor for high sticking. New York managed just one shot on goal before defenseman Jacob Trouba was sent to the penalty box for tripping to kill off much of the power play.
The line of Kreider, Zibanejad and Artemi Panarin combined for two goals and three assists while none of the other forwards recorded a point.
The good news for New York is that it still leads the series 2-1 and a win on Tuesday would give the Rangers a 3-1 lead, so there would be two chances to end the series playing at home. The not so good news is that the Rangers have been outscored 29-21 on the road during the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Something to consider for those who bet online: The total has gone under in seven of New York’s last 10 games.
Rangers vs Lightning Head-to-Head
The Lightning had been 0-5 against the Rangers this season and led for less than 23 minutes in those five contests before Sunday’s victory. The Rangers outscored the Lightning 19-8 in those five games.
The Rangers are 6-4 in the last nine one-goal games against Tampa Bay. Zibanejad has seven goals in six games against Tampa Bay while Adam Fox has eight assists this season. Shesterkin has a 1.81 goals-against average and a save percentage of .949 vs. Tampa Bay.
The Lightning’s Andrei Vasilevskiy is 1-4 with a 3.44 GAA against the Rangers with a save percentage of .879.
Rangers vs Lightning Game Information
- Game: Rangers (52-24-6 in the regular season); Lightning (51-23-8)
- Location: Amalie Arena, Tampa, FL
- Day/Time: Tuesday, 8 p.m. ET
- Rangers vs Lightning Streaming: NHL.TV
Rangers vs Lightning Betting Lines
Rangers vs Lightning Prediction
Now things get a little interesting. If the Rangers win on Tuesday, they return home with a chance to punch a ticket to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since 2014. A win by Tampa Bay and this becomes a best-of-three series.
Not only did Tampa Bay have 52 shots on goal in Game 3 but 18 other shots were blocked. The Rangers will need to do a better job of puck possession to remain in control of the series.
The first four goals in Sunday’s Game 3 were scored on a power play and that could be a key part of Game 4. Tampa Bay is 3 for 8 on the power play in the series and New York is 3 for 11 with the man advantage.
Keep an eye on the availability of Rangers center Ryan Strome, who left Game 3 with an upper-body injury while Tampa Bay will continue to be without center Brayden Point.
The odds of the Rangers winning the series in six games carries a payout of +325, and that matches the odds of Tampa Bay coming back and winning in seven games. The moneyline for the Rangers winning the series in five games is +350.
The odds and predictions in the article are based on time of writing and publication. They may differ as to when the actual event takes place.