Game One of Eastern Conference final was won by the New York Ranger, with late game-winning goal that surprised everyone. The Rangers are not the same team whom Tampa Bay Lightning dominated throughout the regular season. They have dug down and found some new energy to bring to the conference finals. Especially a year after the big trade of captains, St. Louis for Callahan, they are in spotlight again for Lightning-Rangers series, which is proving to be a very exciting one. “That’s the playoffs, isn’t it?” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said.
In Game one, Rangers’ Dominic Moore scored with 2:25 to play in the 3rd, with New York being able to limit Tampa Bay’s defence, stall their octane-powered offence, and defeat goaltender Ben Bishop in the opening matchup. Taking down the Lightning 2-1 on Saturday allowed the Rangers to move within three wins of returning to the Stanley Cup finals from last year.
Moore’s game winning goal came just 30 seconds after he stepped out of the penalty box. It wasn’t a pretty goal but they’ll take it, Kevin Hayes sent the puck into the crease and Moore got position and had the puck deflect off his skate into the net. “I think it’s just a matter of wanting to win,” said Moore, who raised his fists and looked up after scoring. “We had lots of looks, couple just before that. I drove it in front and puck rolled off my tape. Just tried to stay with it and work for a good bounce, and finally it came.”
It was another another nail-biter for the Rangers like the games played against Washinton. New York so far have played 15 consecutive one-goal games in the post-season. They won nine games and have seven victories by a 2-1 score. “The margins are so small,” Moore said. “And they’re not for the faint of heart, these games.”
The series opening game was not like any of the three games played between the two teams in the regular season. Tampa Bay had won all three by a combined 15-7 margin, and Bishop up to the opening game, he had an 8-0 career mark against the Rangers. “It’s one of those things you can’t do much about,” Bishop told media post-game about the winning goal, after losing to the Rangers for the first time in nine career games.
Rangers defenceman Dan Girardi said post-game “I think we’re just calm out there. We’re not nervous. We’re like, they tied it up, no big deal. They make a good play on it, make a good shot. We just stick to our game plan. We never deviate from it. I think that’s what helps us in the one-goal games.”
Ranger’ goaltender Henrik Lundqvist wasn’t under as much pressure as Bishop was, in the first two periods. He made some amazing stops late in the second period against Ondrej Palat, who had a couple of good scoring chances, who later took a cross-ice pass from Tyler Johnson and beat Lundqvist with a shot from the right circle.
Lightning captain Steven Stamkos said of the opposing team’s goaltender who used his mask to turn aside a deflection that Filppula made with a high stick:
“To be honest I don’t think we tested Lundqvist as much as we should have, not a lot of quality shots, not a lot of shots period. We have to find a way to generate more.” About his own goalkeeper, “Bishop was our best player,” Stamkos said. “He kept us in it.”
Will Stamkos’ Lightning be able to conjure up more goals in Game 2? We think yes. The second game in this hard fought series will be played at Madison Square Garden on Monday night.