The Tampa Bay Lightning heads into the Stanley Cup Final for the third consecutive season and the bounty is on the road again against the Western Conference’s regular season team.
How the two-time title holder beat the New York Rangers 2-1 in game 6 He’ll help them when they face the Colorado Avalanche in Game One on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET, ABC).
Captain Stephen Stamkos scored two goals, the second only 21 seconds after the Rangers equalized in the third half.
“We don’t care how it is done,” he told reporters after the match. “All we need is to get it done.” “I am very proud of this group. We are going to the finals again and we have a chance to do something special.”
Stamkos opened the scoring in Saturday’s goal-declining battle when his wrist shot escaped Igor Shesterkin, who was partially checked at 10:43 of the second half.
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Stamkos was in the penalty area when Frank Vatrano of New York tied the match with a power of 13:07 in the third half.
But Stamkos scored in the next turn in the 2-on-1 break when his shot bounced off his leg.
“Obviously I’m a little disappointed in myself for taking the penalty,” he said. “You see them score while you’re in the penalty area. It was weird. For some reason, I wasn’t as upset as I usually do in those situations. I was confident in our group that we would find a way, whether it was in the system or in overtime. We deserved to win tonight.” .
Shesterkin complained but the target survived the review.
“Those are not the individuals,” Stamkus said. “It’s great to score two goals in such a huge match, but if I don’t score and win, I’ll be equally happy. … We know that everyone in our room plays a huge role in the success of the group.”
Shesterkin, who reached the finals of the Vezina and Hart Cups, made 28 saves as he failed in his bid to improve to 6-0 in this post-season elimination matches.
“I thought Igor was fantastic,” Rangers coach Gerard Gallant said. “He gave us a chance to win every night and excel in a lot of games, but he was fantastic. He was our best player all year and he did it again in this series.”
Andrei Vasilevsky saved 20 balls and the defenders helped him with 17 rebounds.
The fact that Lightning has been able to get the Rangers to score one goal in each of their last three matches is that they are also preparing to face an avalanche.
“It’s no secret that they have some electric actuators,” Stamkos said. “Honestly, they are probably a team we thought we’d play for the last couple of years. …Now they’ve broken through the game and they have an incredible mix of veteran presence, star power, grinders and goalkeeper. A huge challenge for us.”
The Lightning is trying to become the first team to win three consecutive Stanley Cups since the New York Islanders won four in a row from 1980 to 1983.
Although Lightning lacked an ice advantage at home throughout the playoffs, they beat the Toronto Maple Leafs in seven games, swept the top-seeded Florida Panthers and beat the Rangers in six. They recovered in the Eastern Conference Final after losing their first two games, including 6-2 in Game 1 after a long absence.
“As the streak progressed, we got better and better, and I think tonight was probably our best game overall,” said striker Alex Killorn.
Lightning’s Victor Hedman is temporarily leaving the game
Victor Hedmann was pulled from the match in the second half when Alexis Lavrinier grabbed him in the head with a check. The defender, who reached the Norris Cup final for the fifth consecutive season, grabbed his head and broke his stick as he returned to the bench.
Hedman scratched his jaw as he sat on the bench and had to go into the locker room, likely due to concussion protocol.
But he returned to the courts in the third period and played regular shifts.
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Galant limited the use of Kid Line during the team’s loss in Game 5.
In Game 6, Kabu Kaku sat and transferred the other two members of Kid Line to other lines. Lafrenière started alongside Mika Zibanejad and Vatrano and Filip Chytil was on a streak with Chris Kreider and Barclay Goodrow, although the lines changed later.
Kakko, the second overall pick in 2019, has five points in 19 playoffs. Striker Brayden Hunt made his third post-season appearance and first since the first round.
New York’s Ryan Strom, who was playing through injury, briefly left the warm-up period but dressed for the match. He did not play in the third half.
Lightning center Brayden Point, who was injured in the first round, sat up again, even though he’s skating.
“I don’t know about the possibility of playing in the first game, but it is very likely that he will play in the series,” coach John Cooper said.
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