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2015 NHL Playoffs Game 16 recap: Kucherov's OT winner gives Bolts 2-1 series lead

A back-and-forth affair between two evenly matched teams saw each of them build, and then blow, a two-goal lead before eventually needing extra time to settle the matter. Tampa Bay's Nikita Kucherov got the game winner which gives the Lightning a 2-1 lead in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Nikita Nesterov and Steven Stamkos celebrate with Nikita Kucherov who had the overtime game winner in Tampa Bay's 6-5 Game 3 victory Wednesday night
Nikita Nesterov and Steven Stamkos celebrate with Nikita Kucherov who had the overtime game winner in Tampa Bay's 6-5 Game 3 victory Wednesday night
Reinhold Malay, USA TODAY Sports Images

The Tampa Bay Lightning beat the New York Rangers 6-5 in overtime in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals Wednesday night at Amalie Arena in Tampa.

Momentum shifts all around in this one as two-goal leads proved to be anything but secure for both teams.

Things heated up quickly as soon as the puck was dropped. Cedric Paquette was whistled for roughing just 26 seconds in and Derick Brassard converted on the ensuing power play just 44 seconds later with the Rangers' first shot of the game. Dan Boyle and Derek Stepan picked up assists on the play.

The Rangers increased their lead to two when Jesper Fast, on assists from Chris Kreider and Ryan McDonagh, scored on a breakaway at 9:55.

Steven Stamkos got the Lightning on the board at 11:07, executing a nifty steal near the blue line, passing off to Alex Killorn. Kilorn took the shot and Henrik Lundqvist yielded a rebound that Stamkos slammed home.

The first period ended with the Rangers up 2-1.

At 10:32 of the second, the Lightning cashed in on the power play with Ondrej Palat tying the game on assists from Tyler Johnson and Stamkos.

That goal was the beginning of an extended stretch of offensive pressure from the Lightning, who took the lead at 13:17 on yet another goal from Johnson, tying the Tampa Bay franchise record for postseason goals with 12. Palat and Victor Hedman chipped in with helpers.

Then at 17:18, the Lightning completed a run of four unanswered goals with Hedman feeding Killorn to make the score 4-2.

Just :29 later, the Rangers halved that lead when Fast scored again, this time getting assistance from Kevin Klein and Stepan.

The Lightning held a 4-3 lead going into the second intermission.

At 2:28 or the third, what had been a two-goal lead for the Lightning was erased completely when McDonagh scored on assists from Kevin Hayes and Keith Yandle.

The Lightning put themselves in good position to wrap things up in regulation when Palat scored at 14:05, getting helpers from Nikita Nesterov and Nikita Kucherov. The play was made possible in part due to Kreider, who had been hit by Nesterov earlier in the shift concentrating on getting retaliation instead of playing defense.

Time ticked away but the Rangers tied things up again at 18:04 on a goal from Boyle with assists going to J.T. Miller and Yandle.

Regulation ended with the teams knotted at 5-5.

Dominic Moore had a chance to end it just over a minute into overtime, finding himself in a scramble in front of the net but was denied by Ben Bishop.

Just about a minute and a half later, J.T. Brown was all alone on a breakaway but was unable to beat Lundqvist.

That responsibility eventually fell on Kucherov whose blast at 3:33 ended it. He was assisted by Nesterov on the play.

The series continues with Game 4 on Friday night here in Tampa.

Game notes:

  • New York came into tonight's game with a 4-0 record in overtime so far in these playoffs. Tampa Bay improved to 3-0 in the same situation.
  • This was the first overtime game at home for the Lightning in these playoffs.
  • The Lightning are now 11-7 all-time in overtime postseason games, 8-3 on the road and 3-4 at home.
  • The two players that Johnson is tied with for goals in a postseason are Brad Richards and Ruslan Fedotenko, who both scored their 12 during the 2004 Stanley Cup run.
  • Matthew Carle left the game in the first period and didn't return.
  • The Lightning honored Cornelia Corbett as the 49th Lightning Community Hero of the season during the first period of tonight's game. Corbett, who received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, will donate the money to the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay. After beginning her career as a New York social worker, Corbett moved to Tampa in 1978 and has been determined to improve the community through tireless volunteering. Her focus has been improving the lives of our most precious resource: children. For the past 30 years, Corbett has been donating not only her finances, but also her time, vision and tenacious leadership. She has helped many non-profit charities that focus on improving the lives of children realize their goals. Corbett is a long-time board member of Champions for Children, working countless hours to improve its child abuse prevention programs. She also navigated the construction of the Tampa Museum of Art. Corbett also helped parlay her ownership of the Tampa Bay Rowdies into developing youth soccer in the Bay area.