Chytil scores twice as New York Rangers take game one of Eastern Conference Finals
NEW YORK (AP) — Filip Chytil scored twice in the second period and the New York Rangers routed the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning 6-2 on Wednesday night in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals.
Mika Zibanejad, Artemi Panarin and Frank Vatrano each had a goal and an assist, Chris Kreider also scored and Alexis Lafrenière and Adam Fox each had two assists to help New York win its franchise-record seventh straight home playoff game. Igor Shesterkin stopped 37 shots to improve to 8-3 in the last 11 games.
Steven Stamkos had a goal and an assist, and Ondrej Palat also scored for Tampa Bay, which had won six straight and was playing for the first time since completing its second-round sweep of Florida on May 23. Andrei Vasilevskiy, who gave up just three goals in four games against the Panthers, had 28 saves.
Game 2 is Friday night at Madison Square Garden.
The score was tied 1-1 after 20 minutes before the Rangers took control in the second period. They scored three times while outshooting the Lightning 17-10.
Vatrano gave the Rangers a 2-1 lead at 7:50 of the second as he pounced on a loose puck near the left circle and fired a shot past Vasilevskiy high on the blocker side for his fourth of the postseason.
Just 25 seconds later, Tampa Bay’s Victor Hedman fired a shot off the goalpost, and seconds later the Rangers brought the puck the other way and Vasilevskiy made a sliding save to deny Ryan Strome.
Palat tied it at 8:32, backhanding the rebound of a shot by Stamkos past Shesterkin for his fifth of the playoffs.
The Rangers regained the lead 1:19 later. Kaapo Kakko had the puck behind the Lightning net, came out to the goalie’s right and sent a pass to Chytil in slot that he fired it past Vasilevskiy. It marked the third straight game Chytil scored.
Chytil made it 4-2 with 4:17 left after the Rangers had extended possession in the offensive zone. He got a cross-ice pass from K’Andre Miller and fired a one-timer past Vasilevskiy for his seventh of the postseason — and fifth in three games.
Panarin got a cross-ice pass from Andrew Copp in the left circle on a 2-on-1 and fired it past Vasilevskiy to give the Rangers a three-goal lead 30 seconds into the third. It was his fifth of the playoffs.
Less than two minutes later, Shesterkin made two big saves during a Lightning power play, stopping a slap shot by Nikita Kucherov and a follow by Corey Perry. He was then down on the ice for several minutes after getting hit in the head by Stamkos after the second save.
Zibanejad made it 6-2 at 6:06 after extended time in the offensive zone on a power play, firing a one-timer from the left circle off a pass from Panarin for his eighth of the playoffs. It gave the Rangers a goal with the man advantage for the sixth straight game, tying a franchise playoff record, previously accomplished in 1986 and 1990.
Tempers flared with less than two minutes remaining as several skirmishes broke out in one corner. Ten players received penalties — including two on the Rangers’ Barclay Goodrow — to put Tampa Bay on a power play to finish the game.
Kreider got the Rangers on the scoreboard first 1:11 into the game on the game’s first shot on goal. Zibanejad got a long lead pass from Vatrano up the right side on a 2-on-1, sent a pass across to Kreider, who fired it past Vasilevskiy from the inside edge of the left circle for his ninth goal of the postseason.
Shesterkin then stopped a slap shot by Jan Rutta at 2:09 on the Lightning’s first shot.
Stamkos tied it at 7:19 as he got a pass from Rutta in the high slot and fired a slap shot past Shesterkin just under the crossbar for his fifth of the playoffs.
Shesterkin denied two tries in close by Stamkos with about 4 minutes remaining in the first to keep the score tied.
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