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Bolts and Rangers to Start Fresh in Best-of-Three Showdown

Photo by Dirk Shadd

Bolts and Rangers to Start Fresh in Best-of-Three Showdown

Less than 24 hours after the Colorado Avalanche finished off a four-game sweep of the Edmonton Oilers in the Western Conference Final, the Tampa Bay Lightning evened things up at two games apiece with the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference Final.

This recovery, after the Bolts had given up an early 2-0 series lead to New York, means that the best-of-seven series will need at minimum six games, but in all likelihood, the full seven.

Looking at the four-game series history of the third round matchup between the Bolts and Blueshirts, it would be easy to assume a seventh game would be required, but the actual performances by the teams – in particular that of the ‘home’ teams – would also indicate that as well.

Beginning in New York for two games, the Rangers jumped out to a quick two-games-to-zero series lead with a shocking 6-2 win in Game 1, before sneaking out a 3-2 victory just two nights later. Both wins came from the familiar confines of New York’s Madison Square Garden.

But in seeing the series shift to Florida, all of the Rangers’ momentum came crashing down, by way of two-straight losses to the Bolts. The Lightning allowed just three total goals by New York in games three and four, picking up 3-2 and 4-1 victories, to which the series found itself knotted at twos.

This means that of the three remaining games, whichever club is first to two victories moves on to battle the Colorado Avalanche in Stanley Cup Final, who punched their ticket by way of that easy second round sweep of Edmonton.

With New York owning home ice advantage through the Eastern Conference Final, the remaining three games will be played as follows:

Thursday, 7:00 PM, Tampa Bay at New York
Saturday, 7:00 PM, New York at Tampa Bay
Tuesday, 7:00 PM, Tampa Bay at New York

It really is anyone’s game, but home records have been dominant thus far.

That said, all of New York’s momentum gained in its second round series victory over Carolina and its two early victories over Tampa has seemingly crashed to the ground in its final six periods of hockey. With all-world netminder Andrei Vasilevskiy finally seeming to have found his typical postseason form, scoring goals has been a problem of late for the Rangers. That will need to change come Thursday evening should New York stand any chance of slowing down the reigning back-to-back Stanley Cup champion Lightning.

Thursday’s game can be viewed live on Sportsnet and CBC, beginning at 7:00 PM central time.

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