3 Keys: Rangers at Lightning, Game 4 of Eastern Conference Final


Rangers (2M) at Lightning (3A)


New York leads best-of-7 series 2-1

TAMPA – The Tampa Bay Lightning can even the Eastern Conference Final against the New York Rangers with a victory in Game 4 of the best-of-7 series at Amalie Arena on Tuesday.

Tampa Bay will look to build on a 3-2 victory at home in Game 3 on Sunday after losing the first two games of the series at New York. The Lightning outshot the Rangers 51-30 and had an 83-51 advantage in shot attempts in rallying from down 2-0 to win Game 3 but understand they can’t let up after one victory.

“Anytime you’re in a series, you’ve got to turn a page at some point,” Tampa Bay defenseman Ryan McDonagh said. “So we have to do that even on a win at times, too. You just can’t think that we did it once, it’s going to be easily replicated.”

The Lightning are 5-1 at home in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, including wins in their past five home games. The Rangers, who are 2-6 on the road in the playoffs, will look to get back to playing how they did in the first two games at home, when they pressured the Lightning into turnovers with their speed, which led to odd-man rushes and quality scoring chances.

[RELATED: Complete Rangers vs. Lightning series coverage]

“I want to see a complete game,” Rangers coach Gerard Gallant said. Play our game, work hard, compete, battle. Do all the little things right and then make sure we’re ready to go when the puck is dropped. A good, solid first period starts it off and then play our game from there . “

Teams that take a 3-1 lead hold an all-time record of 298-31 (90.6 percent) winning a best-of-7 NHL playoff series, including 2-1 in the first two rounds this year.

Here are 3 keys to Game 4:

1. Strome’s and Goodrows’s health

Ryan Strome participated in the Rangers’ optional morning skate after leaving Game 3 with a lower-body injury, but Barclay Goodrow did not skate after blocking a shot off his left foot Sunday. Goodrow was able to finish Game 3, and Gallant said he expects both centers to play Tuesday, but said he needed to talk to the trainer about Strome after the skate.

“I’m not sure he’s going to play tonight, but I expect him to play,” Gallant said. “I haven’t heard anything that’s saying he’s not playing.”

If either Strome or Goodrow isn’t at full strength, that will test New York’s depth at center.

2. Cirelli’s line vs. Zibanejad’s line

With last change on home ice, Lightning coach Jon Cooper put together a line of Brandon Hagel, Anthony Cirelli and Alex Killorn to play against the Rangers’ top line of Chris Kreider, Mika Zibanejad and Frank Fire in Game 3. Kreider and Zibanejad each scored a power-play goal, but the line spent much of its 5-on-5 time defending in its end.

Hagel (plus-20), Cirelli (plus-20) and Killorn (plus-21) dominated in the 5-on-5 shot attempts differential, and the Lightning had a 61-35 advantage in 5-on-5 shot attempts.

“I think as a line when we’re making them play defense for a good majority of the game, that’s successful for us and what we’re trying to do,” Killorn said.

Gallant said he didn’t believe matchups were the deciding factor in Game 3. But of Kreider, Zibanejad and Vatrano’s play at 5-on-5, Gallant said, “Like the rest of the team, they’ve got to be a little better. “

3. Play with discipline

Each team scored two power-play goals in Game 3. The Lightning are 3-for-8 (37.5 percent) on the power play in the series, and the Rangers are 3-for-11 (27.3 percent).

So each team needs to be better on the penalty kill, but cutting down on penalties would also help. Tampa Bay was called for two penalties for making contact with goalie Igor Shesterkin, and New York scored on each. Rangers defenseman Jacob Trouba was called for three penalties, and the Lightning scored on the first two to erase a 2-0 deficit. Vatrano also took a goalie interference penalty for the Rangers.

Rangers projected lineup


Chris Kreider – Mika Zibanejad – Frank Vatrano

Artemi Panarin – Ryan Strome – Andrew Copp

Alexis Lafreniere – Filip ChytilKaapo Kakko

Tyler Motte – Barclay Goodrow – Ryan Reaves

Ryan LindgrenAdam Fox

K’Andre Miller – Jacob Trouba

Justin BrownBraden Schneider

Igor Shesterkin

Alexandar Georgiev

Injured: Sammy Blais (knee)

Scratched: Greg McKegg, Jonny Brodzinski, Dryden Hunt, Kevin Rooney, Julien Gauthier, Patrick Nemeth, Libor Hayek

Lightning projected lineup

Ondrej PalatSteven StamkosNikita Kucherov

Brandon Hagel – Anthony Cirelli – Alex Killorn

Ross ColtonNicholas PaulCorey Perry

Pat MaroonPierre-Edouard BellemareRiley Nash

Victor HedmanJan Rutta

Ryan McDonagh – Erik Cernak

Mikhail SergachevZach Bogosian

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Brian Elliott

Injured: Brayden Point (lower body)

Scratched: Cal Foote

Status report

Strome participated in an optional morning skate, and Gallant said he expects the forward to play. Strome left Game 3 with a lower-body injury in the second period. … Gallant also said he expects Goodrow to play. The forward left Game 3 briefly in the third period after blocking a shot with his left foot, the same foot he injured in Game 1 of the first round against the Pittsburgh Penguins that caused him to miss 11 games. … If Strome and / or Goodrow can’t play, Rooney would likely be the first forward to come in and Hunt the second. Rooney has played 12 games in the playoffs, and Hunt has played in two. Brodzinski, also a forward, has played one game. … Point participated in an optional morning skate but the forward will miss his eighth straight game. … The Lightning will have the same lineup as in Game 3.





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