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New York Rangers at Tampa Bay Lightning Game Three Preview and Game Day Thread

Can the Lightning keep the momentum from the third period of Game 2?

Tampa Bay Lightning v New York Rangers - Game Two Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

New York Rangers at Tampa Bay Lightning: Game Three

Location: Amalie Arena

Time: 3:00 PM EST

Broadcast/Streaming: ESPN, ESPN+, CBC, TVAS, SN

Opponent’s SBNation Site: Blueshirt Banter

On their path to the two previous Stanley Cup championships, the Tampa Bay Lightning never experienced a two-game deficit in the series, but that doesn’t mean that getting out of this hole is something completely unachievable for the team.

Not that long ago, in 2018, the Lightning managed to return after 2-0 in the series on the same stage against the Washington Capitals. The New York Rangers themselves did it twice over this postseason: first surviving after 3-1 against the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round and then after 2-0 in the second round against the Carolina Hurricanes.

The Lightning also have a home-ice advantage for the next two games. So far this playoffs the Bolts are 4-1 at Amalie Arena, with their only loss coming against the Toronto Maple Leafs in Game 3 of the first round. On the other hand, the Rangers are 2-5 on the road this postseason, however, their most recent win was earned in Game 7 against the Canes.

The Lightning players and coaches have been talking about needing to play with more urgency in the next games. They’re also hoping to build on the momentum they had in the second half of the previous game, especially in the third period. That third period was definitely their best stretch of the series against the Rangers so far as they managed to outshot their opponent 18-8 and had an edge in shot quality with 73.77 xGF% over that period. They were also were close to tie the game, but Igor Shesterkin was as usual stellar in the net.

Keeping the momentum could be a deciding factor for the team as they obviously struggle with game pace after a long layoff between series. It was especially harmful against such a fast team as New York. In some way, the Rangers outplayed the Bolts at their own game, running three very skilled and offensively dangerous lines — which was the Lightning’s trademark in the past two seasons. The Rangers’ kid line is something which the Lightning still didn’t figure out how to play against: over the last two games the Lafreniere-Chytil-Kakko line have a dominant 58.62 CF%, 66.59 xGF% and most importantly 100 GF% stats against the Lightning at 5-on-5.

Puck management was also a big issue in the last game. So far in the series the Bolts allowed 50 giveaways against the Rangers — already more than a third of the total amount of giveaways they allowed during this postseason. According to Corey Sznajder’s data, 12 of them lead to shots, which is enormously big amount. Nikita Kucherov has the most giveaways amongst the Lightning players in this series, looking like he’s been missing some chemistry with his linemates.

As for the lineup, Jon Cooper already confirmed that Brayden Point won’t be available tonight. According to Cooper, the lineup will be “if not the same, pretty close“, even allowing to return to 12/6 combination on Sunday. Riley Nash and Cole Koepke have been so far the only forwards skating with the core group during morning practices and thereby two most potential candidates to slot in the lineup if the Lightning’s coaching staff would decide to return to 12/6.

Tampa Bay Lightning Potential Lines

Forwards

Steven Stamkos - Anthony Cirelli - Nikita Kucherov

Ondrej Palat - Nick Paul - Alex Killorn

Brandon Hagel - Ross Colton - Corey Perry

Patrick Maroon - Pierre-Edouard Bellemare

Defense

Victor Hedman - Jan Rutta

Ryan McDonagh - Erik Cernak

Mikhail Sergachev - Cal Foote

Zach Bogosian

Goaltenders

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Brian Elliott

New York Rangers Potential Lines

Forwards

Chris Kreider - Mika Zibanejad - Frank Vatrano

Artemi Panarin - Ryan Strome - Andrew Copp

Alexis Lafreniere - Filip Chytil - Kaapo Kakko

Tyler Motte - Barclay Goodrow - Ryan Reaves

Defense

Ryan Lindgren - Adam Fox

K’Andre Miller - Jacob Trouba

Justin Braun - Braden Schneider

Goaltender

Igor Shesterkin

Alexandar Georgiev