Mikhail Sergachev and Ondrej Palat scored the two 5v5 goals needed for the Tampa Bay Lightning to beat the New York Rangers on the road to take a 3-2 series lead in the Eastern Conference Final, sending the series back to Amalie for a possible decider. Brandon Hagel scored the empty netter to seal the 3-1 victory, with Andrei Vasilevskiy stopping 24 of 25 shots he faced on a night where the defense made his life relatively easy.
The Lightning unlocked the key to beating Igor Shesterkin (and all goalies, really) which is by not letting the goalie see the puck. The Lightning put 26 shots on target, most of them Shesterkin could see, but the two that got past were the difference.
Just looking at the heat map from the game, the Lightning were right in the face of the Rangers, peppering the net with shots from in tight. Meanwhile the Rangers couldn’t sufficiently get into the slot, most of their shots were coming in from bad angles. To put some numbers to this, the Lightning’s offense was twice as dangerous as the Rangers tonight (expected goals were 4-2, 66%).
Sergachev’s goal came at the end of the second and Palat’s (assisted by Sergachev) came at the end of the third. Yet another late goal for the Lightning when it counted the most caused a chorus of fans (namely previous opponents of the Lightning) to cry out the following quote from Breaking Bad:
The first period was a stalemate, apart from a pair of posts from Paul and Kucherov. Vasilevskiy was good on a couple important saves as the Rangers looked like the better team.
Paul with a great chance from the upper slot and he nails the post with the shot.— X - Raw Charge (@RawCharge) June 10, 2022
Shots were 14-17 in the first period with the Rangers looking like a much better team at home than on the road. They were making the most of their match-ups. But the Lightning kept it close, sticking to their game plan of generally lower scoring games that the Rangers don’t do as well.
Ryan Lindgren opened the scoring for New York, throwing the puck on the net from the half wall over Vasilevskiy’s blocker and shoulder.
SERGY! Sergachev tied the game late in the second with a seeing-eye point shot that got through several layers of screens before beating Shesterkin who had no idea where the puck was. A lot of this is being credited to fluke, but the Lightning made a consistent effort to get in the Leafs goalie’s face, the Panthers goalies’ faces, and now Shesterkin’s face, all of which leads to the goalie being unable to stop the shot because they can’t see it.
Shots were even, but the Lightning were by far the more dangerous team, namely the Kucherov, Stamkos, and Palat line that had yet more chances right in tight. The Lightning had three quarters of the scoring chances in the period in terms of expected goals. Big credit also goes to the defense that kept the Rangers away from the front of the net, as shown in the heat map at the top of the article.
Ryan McDonagh and Zach Bogosian both left the game early in the third period after taking hard knocks as the Rangers pushed hard for their next goal. Bogosian came back relatively soon, but McDonagh wasn’t seen until the final few minutes of regulation.
Ryan McDonagh just left for @TBLightning dressing room.— Renaud Lavoie (@renlavoietva) June 10, 2022
Bogosian is back on the ice … WHEW— Gabby Shirley (@Gabby_Shirley_) June 10, 2022
McDonagh back on the ice with 4:45 to go in the period. Good news.— X - Raw Charge (@RawCharge) June 10, 2022
SERGACHEV AGAIN (kind of)!!! Another shot from distance as the Lightning forwards rushed to crowd the front of the net, the Rangers couldn’t find their bodies, and the rest is history at Madison. The goal was credited to Palat in front of the net.
Hagel tucked the game away with an empty netter in the final minute of regulation for his second of the playoffs. The Lightning steal one on the road, heading home to close out the series.