New York Rangers draw first blood in a fast-paced Game One
Here is how Game One of the Eastern Conference Final played out:
The first-ever playoff meeting between the Rangers and Lightning got underway to a packed Madison Square Garden, in a Saturday matinee affair.
After having a little difficulty getting the puck in the offensive zone and wavering the Lightning’s offensive pressure, the Rangers appeared to be able to find their game. Questions coming into Game One would be how the Rangers would handle the Lightning’s brand of speed. Through the first six minutes, the team held their own.
If there were any questions about nerves in this game, the Rangers didn’t show it. They were able to play their game and looked comfortable in the pace of play. Through the second tv timeout, the Rangers were out shooting the Lightning 9-6, many of those were quality shots on Lightning’s goaltender Ben Bishop.
Speaking of Bishop, the normally sure-handed goalie with the puck, almost got caught red-handed. A turnover resulted from a misplay in front of Bishop’s net, which he did not get solid wood on the puck. It fluttered softly and was intended for Jason Garrison. It was knocked out of the air by Derick Brassard, who passed it back to Kevin Hayes. He rang his shot off the right post, but it started a flurry of opportunities for the Rangers, one which included a wide-open net for Dan Girardi, who got handcuffed on the shot. Also, the alertness of Nikita Kucherov clearing the puck helped the Lightning escape further danger on the play.
The period ended with the Rangers outshooting their foe 11-7, and looking comfortable as the period went on, giving way to optimism.
Henrik Lundqvist was put to work early in the second. He faced three early shots, one of which used his patented head-butt with his goalie mask. However, the Lightning knew they had to get to him, if they wanted a chance to score.
Our first scrap of the game occurred at a tv timeout. As Lightning’s forward Tyler Johnson was called offsides, he raised his stick up to Marc Staal. Pushing and shoving ensued, as players on both sides of the ice gathered. No penalties came out of it, but tempers were beginning to rear their heads.
However, the ice was broken with: 12 seconds left. After a shot on goal by Ryan McDonagh was blocked by bodies in front, Chris Kreider corralled the loose puck and turned around and put his own shot on Bishop. However, that was blocked by the skate of Lightning’s defenseman Andrej Sustr. Fortunately, Derek Stepan was there waiting to the right of the net, picked up the loose puck and slid it in Bishop’s five-hole. For Stepan, it was his fourth of the playoffs and second in two games, including the overtime winner in Game Sever of the Capitals series. Assists were credited to Kreider (1) and McDonagh (5).
The period ended with shots a little more evened out, a Lightning 12-11. Again, another scrum developed with Johnson; and, he was seen tangling with Brassard into the Lightning’s net after being pushed by the Rangers center.
New York Rangers
No penalties were carried over to start the period.
The Lightning got on the board, by way of the power play. After a hi-sticking penalty was called on the rangers captain McDonagh, Ondrej Palat got his fourth goal these playoffs by roofing a shot over the shoulder of Lundqvist. Assists were credited to Johnson (5) and Victor Hedman (6).
After the goal, the Lightning gained momentum and appeared to take control of the play this period. Fortunately, the Lightning were not able to keep the momentum going after a second power play was called on Kreider for holding the stick of a Lightning’s player.
With 2:25 left in the period, Moore appeared to make up for his mistake. After previous chances to score, strong board play by the Rangers kept the puck in their offensive zone thanks to Brassard. The rookie Kevin Hayes helped continue the strong play and throw the puck in front, which bounced off the right leg of Moore. It was his first of the playoffs and game-winning goal. Assists were credited to hayes (2) and Brassard (4).
For the fourteenth time these playoffs, the Rangers were involved in a one-goal game. This time the Rangers were on the winning end and took a 1-0 lead in the series.
Game Two will be on Monday at 8:00 pm EST.
Stars of the Game
Dominic Moore (game-winning goal, three shots)
Henrik Lundqvist (23 of 24 saves, .958 save percentage)
Ondrej Palat (one goal, three shots, TOI-19:26)