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Ondrej Palat’s goal with 42 seconds remaining completed a comeback from a two-goal deficit as the Lightning defeated the Rangers 3-2 in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference final Sunday at Amalie Arena.
With its first win of the series and first victory over New York in six tries this season, Tampa Bay narrowed its deficit to 2-1 heading to Game 4 Tuesday in Tampa.
Nikita Kucheov, who had a goal and two assists, set up Palat’s goal with a nifty backhand pass from the slot.
Power-play goals from Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider had given New York a 2-0, second-period lead before Kucherov scored with the man-advantage to put Tampa Bay on the scoreboard.
Steven Stamkos’ power-play goal early in the third period tied the game at 2.
Goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 28 of 30 shots in his best game of the series.
Here’s how it happened:
Ryan Strome did not return to the Rangers bench for the start of the period
Jacob Trouba penalized for holding Anthony Cirelli after strong shift from Cirelli line
Andrei Vasilevskiy covers bad-angle shot from the corner
LIGHTNING GOAL! Steven Stamos scores power-play goal on one-timer from left circle after cross-ice pass from Corey Perry (18:38 left). Lightning 2, Rangers 2.
Nick Paul turnaround shot from the left circle blocked
Shesterkin makes blocker save on Hedman from the right circle
Shesterkin makes left pad save on Cernak blast
Vasilevskiy catches Kreider bad-angle shot from low in the left circle
Vasilevskiy makes a save as Frank Vatrano drives into him, with McDonagh leaning into him
Vatrano penalized for goaltender interference
Goodrow is hurting after blocking a Hedman shot from the right point
Lindrgren deflects Kucherov shot into the corer
Perry shoots over the net
Kucherov one-timer blocked by Trouba
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Rangers kill the penalty; eight Lightning shot attempts, two on goal
Goodrow goes to the Ranger locker room with apparent foot injury
Goodrow returns to the bench
Strome has been ruled out with a lower-body injury
Copp shot off the rush goes off arm of Vasilevskiy
Kucherov receives a four-minute double minor for high-sticking Zibanajad after fanning on a shot at the offensive blue line (9:04 to play)
Vasilevskiy stops Zibanejad shot
Paul nearly has shorthanded attempt
Trouba draws a tripping penalty for taking down Killorn after puck skips past him at the blue line (7:31)
We’ll have 4-on-4 play for two minutes, followed by 27 seconds of Ranger power-play time
Shesterkin stops Killorn from the left circle
Rangers kill the Trouba penalty
Killorn shorthanded chance smothered by Shesterkin
Kucherov out of the box, both teams back to full strength
Brandon Hagel drives to the net
Hagel shot blocked by Panarin
LIGHTNING GOAL! Ondrej Palat scores on backhanded pass from Nikita Kucherov. Lightning 3, Rangers 2.
(Lightning win 3-2, trail series 2-1)
Igor Shesterkin makes left pad save on Victor Hedman shot from left circle
Ryan McDonagh shot from the left point gloved by Shesterkin
Ryan Strome leaves for Rangers locker room after getting pushed from behind
Anthony Cirelli tip from the top of the crease of McDonagh shot goes just wide
Barclay Goodrow shot goes off Vasilevskiy’s helmet
Artemi Panarin shot from the slot blocked by Vasileveskiy
Panarin shot from right circle hits Vasileskiy in the midsection
Corey Perry shot from the right circle gloved by Shesterin. Colton jabs his stick into Shesterkin’s left pad and Lindgren goes after him. Colton (cross-checking) and Lindgren (roughing) are both penalized, resulting in 4-on-4 play for two minutes
Mika Zibanejad penalized for interference against Alex Killorn after Chris Kreider giveaway, giving the Lightning a 4-on-3 power play for 1:45 (14:54 left in period)
Stamkos shot from slot blocked into the corner by Shesterkin
K’Andre Miller steals the puck from Kucherov and Rangers nearly score off the resulting 2-on-1 after Goodrow hits the post
Corey Perry penalized for slashing after getting his stick into Shesterkin’s mask. We’ll have 3-on-3 for 13 seconds, then 4-on-4 for 12 seconds
Rangers now have about a minute and a half of power-play time
RANGERS GOAL: Zibanejad scores a power-play goal on one-timer from left circle after cross-ice pass from Fox. Rangers 1, Lightning 0. (12:23 left)
Riley Nash penalized for goaltender interference, and the Rangers go back on the power play
Zibanejad shot from left circle saved by Vasilevskiy
RANGERS GOAL: Chris Kreider scores on rebound from top of crease after getting inside position on McDonagh. Rangers 2, Lightning 0.
Rangers get the puck out of the zone
Trouba penalized for interfering with Ondrej Palat
LIGHTNING GOAL! Nikita Kucherov scores on the power play, a one-timer from low in the right circle. Rangers 2, Lightning 1.
Jan Rutta one-timer from the right point deflects into the corner
Filip Chytil shot blocked by Brandon Hagel
Zach Bogosian one-timer from the right circle saved by Shesterkin
Vasilevskiy catches Alexis Lafrenière shot from left circle
Nick Paul shoots up over the net
Frank Vatrano shot from left circle saved by Vasilevskiy
(Rangers lead 2-1 after two periods)
Jan Rutta shot wide of the net
Nikita Kucherov shot blocked by Ryan Strome
K’Andre Miller wrist shot from center point misses wide
Ryan McDonagh shot from the left sideboards saved by Igor Shesterkin
Shesterkin gloves shot from the right point
Andrei Vasilevskiy makes pad save on Andrew Copp shot from left circle
Shesterkin gloves Kucherov snap shot from left circle
Filip Chytil turnaround shot from low in right circle stopped by Vasilevskiy
K’Andre Miller shoots wide from left circle
Vasilevskiy makes right pad save on Vincent Trouba blast from right circle after McDonagh turnover
McDonagh shot saved blocked away by Shesterkin
Kucherov shot from short side saved by Shesterkin
Stamkos shot misses high and wide
Kucherov penalized for high-sticking against Artemi Panarin
Chris Kreider has a couple of chances from in front
Pierre-Edouard Bellemare holds in the puck in the Rangers zone
Erik Cernak intercepts a pass in the neutral zone and sends puck down the ice
Anthony Cirelli clears the puck out of the zone
Copp shot from left circle goes off Vasilevskiy’s glove and out of the zone
Trouba blast caroms off McDonagh
Shesterkin robs Kucherov on breakaway right out of the box
Trouba blocks Kucherov shot
Vasilevskiy stops Goodrow, Motte and Reaves from point-blank range
Shesterkin makes pad save on Bogosian shot and Maroon rebound attempt
Shesterkin stops Brandon Hagel chance from edge of the crease
Hedman breaks up Trouba pass for Copp on 2-on-1
Panarin shot from right circle blocked by sprawling Hedman
Vasileskiy fights off shot from Trouba from the right point that bounces and skips on him
Ross Colton shot misses wide
Stamkos shot from the slot knocked down and swept into the corner by Shesterkin
(Scoreless tie after one period)
Pregame scouting report
Have the Lightning finally met their match?
Certainly, there are things in the Rangers’ style of play that mirror the Lightning’s.
They play a tight defensive game and are highly disciplined. They take few risks, which limits odd-man rushes. When things do break down, they have a top-of-the-line goaltender to back them up.
Two games into the series, the Rangers have done a better job of impersonating the Lightning than the two-time defending champions have, pushing the Bolts to within two losses of playoff elimination.
Of course, the Lightning have been their own worst enemy too often in this series. They’ve had trouble managing the puck and missed coverage assignments. They’ve spent too much time in the penalty box.
The good news is that they seemed to rediscover important parts of their game over the final period-plus of Game 2, which they lost 3-2.
They became more active on their skates. Their passing improved. They got pucks behind the Rangers defense, won battles and started their cycle game, resulting in more offensive-zone time.
They had the bulk of the possession time in the third period and outshot the Rangers 14-6. Nick Paul’s goal with a sixth attacker on the ice brought them within one, and only a Jacob Trouba block of a Steven Stamkos shot kept the Lightning from tying the game in the final minute.
In many ways, it was reminiscent of Game 3 of the opening-round series against Toronto. Tampa Bay lost 5-2 but seemed to rediscover missing parts of its game: getting players to the front of the net, putting shots on goal, keeping pucks alive and generating second and third chances.
The Lightning came within a goal of rallying from a three-score deficit before allowing two late empty-net goals. More importantly, they sustained that level of play for the remainder of the series, winning three of the final four games to eliminate the Maple Leafs.
Can they do it again with a Stanley Cup Final berth on the line?
Follow our live updates, starting at 3 p.m., as the Bolts seek their first win of the series and to avoid falling within a game of playoff elimination.
Game day scene
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