Rangers drop five on Bishop for third time in four games, force Game 7

Tampa Bay goalie Ben Bishop surrenders a goal to Derick Brassard of the New York Rangers in the third period of Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final Tuesday. (Mike Carlson/Getty Images)

In the 2014 playoffs as well as the current Stanley Cup tournament, the New York Rangers have proven adept at pulling themselves back from the precipice of post-season elimination. So to see them pull out a win to force a Game 7 as they did Tuesday in their 7-3 Game 6 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning isn’t the biggest shock in the hockey world.

What is shocking, however, is the way the Bolts and goaltender Ben Bishop are crumbling. A young Tampa team that shackled the Blueshirts’ offense through the first few games of the Eastern Conference Final has become disheveled and disinterested in playing defense. And now they’ve got to go into the world’s most famous arena and beat the defending conference champs to avoid an embarrassing exit. Read more

Blueshirts’ Miller scores huge goal after miraculous save by Bishop

Rangers players celebrate J.T. Miller's goal against the Lightning's Ben Bishop in the third period of Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final Tuesday. (Mike Carlson/Getty Images)

Lightning goalie Ben Bishop struggled in two of three games prior to Game 6 between his Bolts team and the New York Rangers – and he continued to struggle Tuesday night in Tampa Bay, surrendering five goals on 26 shots before being pulled in the third period. Here’s what kind of night it was for Bishop: even after he made a spectacular save – as he did on Blueshirts center Derick Brassard early in the third period – the Rangers scored seconds later.

This isn’t to blame Bishop for the goal he allowed to J.T. Miller at the 3:02 mark of the third frame. Tampa’s defense was porous all night and did him no favors. He wasn’t wholly blameless either, but goalies know some nights simply don’t go their way – and after Bishop’s flailing save on Brassard was followed by Miller’s first goal of the playoffs (and first career NHL post-season goal in his seventh game), he had to have an inclination the hockey gods weren’t in his corner in Game 6: Read more

Rangers’ Lundqvist robs Stamkos with stupendous pad save

Adam Proteau
Henrik Lundqvist (Mike Carlson/Getty Images)

If the New York Rangers are going to extend the Eastern Conference Final to seven games by winning Game 6 against the Lightning, they’re going to need star goalie Henrik Lundqvist to play to or above his normally stellar standards. And through the first period Tuesday in Tampa Bay, Lundqvist lived up to his reputation as a big-game goalie, robbing Bolts phenom Steven Stamkos with a brilliant pad save.

The Blueshirts were up 1-0 just past the 14-minute mark of the opening frame when Tampa winger Ryan Callahan fanned on a shot attempt and the puck drifted to Stamkos, who looked to have an open net before Lundqvist threw his left pad out to turn aside the Lightning captain’s shot and preserve the lead: Read more

Lightning’s Cedric Paquette “very questionable” for Game 6

Jared Clinton
Cedric Paquette (Scott Audette/Getty Images)

If the Tampa Bay Lightning want to see Cedric Paquette in the lineup again this post-season, they may need to make it to the Stanley Cup finals.

In Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals against the New York Rangers, Paquette got in front of a Derick Brassard shot and ended up blocking it with his right hand. He immediately left the ice following the shot block and did not return to the game.

The concern about him slotting into Game 6 comes from Tuesday’s optional morning skate, where Paquette took to the ice for only a few short minutes before leaving the ice, according to TVA’s Renaud Lavoie. Read more

Rumor Roundup: Stamkos’ next contract could impact Lightning’s future

Steven Stamkos (Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

While superstar Steven Stamkos tries to help the Tampa Bay Lightning reach the 2015 Stanley Cup Final, speculation is brewing over his long-term future with the club. Stamkos’ eligibility next summer for unrestricted free agency and the Lightning’s efforts to re-sign him could dominate NHL headlines this summer.

The Boston Globe’s Fluto Shinzawa reports of chatter wondering if the high cost of re-signing Stamkos might prompt Lightning management to trade their 25-year-old captain. Shinzawa believes Stamkos could seek a deal comparable to the identical eight-year, $84- million contracts signed last summer by Chicago’s Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. He also speculates uncertainty over the salary cap in the future and the Lightning’s depth in young talent could factor in determining if they can afford to keep their franchise player. Read more

Rangers offense fizzles again, Bolts push them to brink of elimination with Game 5 win

Tampa's Steven Stamkos celebrates his second-period goal with teammate Ondrej Palat in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Final Sunday. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The New York Rangers’ shortcomings on offense in the 2015 playoffs have been extensively documented and remain apparent to anyone who’s watched them regularly this spring. They’re a team that had no issue putting the puck in the net in the regular season, ranking third in the NHL with average of 3.02 goals-for per game – but in their first 17 post-season games, they’ve managed just 2.24 GPG and often play as if the concept of scoring is foreign to them. The Blueshirts gave their fans hope they’d ended their offensive funk with a 5-1 victory over Tampa Bay in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Final Friday, but Sunday night in Game 5, the same old Rangers showed up, and not one of them could beat Bolts goalie Ben Bishop in a 2-0 Lightning win.

Yes, they’re the defending conference champions. Yes, they were the better possession team Sunday at at Madison Square Garden and outshot the Lightning 26-22 in Game 5. But for the third time in this series, Tampa Bay was the squad whose players capitalized on their chances as the Rangers flailed away impotently against Bishop. And although the Blueshirts remain able to play a tight defensive game, they’re one loss from elimination with little reason for optimism they can produce enough offense for the two consecutive games they now need to move on in the tournament. Read more

Bolts star Stamkos heating up on offense, extends scoring streak to four games

Steven Stamkos (Andre Ringuette/Getty Images)

In the first two rounds of the NHL playoffs, Lightning captain Steven Stamkos scored three goals in 13 games. Unfortunately for the New York Rangers, Stamkos has become much more productive in the Eastern Conference Final against them – and Sunday in Game 5, the star center continued his hot streak by scoring for the fourth straight game in a 2-0 Bolts victory.

Tampa was leading 1-0 on a Valtteri Filppula goal 13:29 into the second period at Madison Square Garden, and nearly five minutes later, with the Bolts on the power play, Stamkos tipped in a shot from Ondrej Palat to record his seventh of the post-season and his 14th career playoff goal in 39 games: Read more

Lightning’s Filppula, Stamkos work smoothly together for first goal of Game 5

Lightning star Steven Stamkos celebrates teammate Valtteri Filppula's second-period goal against the New York Rangers in Game 5 Sunday. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

With the incredible contributions made by the Tampa Bay Lightning’s younger players in the 2015 playoffs, veteran center Valtteri Filppula hasn’t been in the spotlight all that often. But in Game 5 of the Bolts’ Eastern Conference Final series against the New York Rangers, Filppula collaborated with star Steven Stamkos to score the first goal of the night.

Game 5 was scoreless through the first 33 minutes at Madison Square Garden, but Stamkos took the puck at the Rangers’ blueline late in the second period and quickly moved it along to Filppula, who wired a wrist shot past Blueshirts goalie Henrik Lundqvist to make it 1-0 for the visiting team: Read more