Once again, the New York Rangers got zapped by the Tampa Bay Lightning, 2-0, in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs finals on Sunday at Madison Square Garden. The Lightning lead the series by 3-2 and they play again on Tuesday in Tampa Bay.
After allowing 10 goals over the previous two games, Ben Bishop bounced back with a stellar performance in net to back Tampa Bay’s defensive revival during Sunday’s all-important Game 5.
Bishop made 26 saves for his second career playoff shutout and Steven Stamkos continued to display his renewed scoring touch to guide the Lightning to a 2-0 victory over the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden.
Stamkos tied a franchise postseason record by scoring in a fourth straight game and also assisted on Valtteri Filppula‘s goal for the Lightning, who took a 3-2 series lead by killing off all four penalties and blocking 24 shots.
“We weren’t happy with the last couple games with the amount of scoring chances we were giving up,” said Bishop. “We looked at it and we talked about it. I thought we did a better job tonight. Guys (were) coming up huge with blocked shots at the end there.”
Henrik Lundqvist stopped 20 shots for the Rangers, who were unable to build upon their 5-1 thrashing of the Lightning on Friday.
The Lightning can book their first Stanley Cup final appearance since 2004 with a win in Game 6 at home on Tuesday.
After another strong penalty kill, Filppula opened the scoring with 6:31 left in the second period.
Stamkos took a lead pass from Anton Stralman through the neutral zone and skated up the right-wing boards. Filppula received a pass from Stamkos and beat Lundqvist’s blocker with a far-side wrister from the right circle.
“They gradually became more aggressive,” Rangers captain Ryan McDonagh said. “The last couple games we’ve been able to make that play, anticipate our next play and kind of break that pressure. Tonight we didn’t get as many of those looks, as many of those opportunities.”
Tampa Bay continued its strong special teams play with a power-play tally. Nikita Kucherov faked a shot at the left circle and hit a streaking Ondrej Palat with a cross-ice pass. Stamkos finished off the tic-tac-toe play by tapping in Palat’s feed from atop the crease for a 2-0 lead with 1:38 to play in the middle frame.
Bishop made 10 more saves in the third to seal the win, including a shoulder stop on a dangerous Derek Stepan snap shot and a denial of Dominic Moore’s 2- on-1 endeavor.
Lundqvist vacated the net in favor of an extra attacker with just over three minutes left in regulation. He headed to the bench again with a minute to play following offsetting penalties, but his team was unable to light the lamp.
The Rangers controlled the pace of play during a scoreless first period, aggressively hemming the visitors in their own zone and holding a 6-4 shot advantage. The visitors held their ground, however, blocking six New York offerings and killing off two penalties to enter the first intermission unscathed.
“I thought that was the whole key of the game,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said of his team’s strong short-handed effort. “It kind of sucked away the momentum from them. We got stronger after that.”
Less than two minutes into the second, Stamkos gathered a Keith Yandle turnover at the left circle and wristed a shot on net, but Lundqvist robbed him with a slick glove save from the top of the crease.