TAMPA — Lightning defenseman Zach Bogosian doesn’t find himself in the offensive column much as a stay-at-home defenseman. But he showed off some fancy footwork early in the first period Tuesday to help the Lightning get on the board in their Game 4 win over the Rangers.
Pierre-Edouard Bellemare passed off the puck along the center ice line to Bogosian, who was skating down the right side. Bogosian worked his way along the bottom of the right faceoff circle, slipping the puck under the stick of New York’s Justin Braun and cut right in front of the crease, backhanding a shot toward goaltender Igor Shesterkin.
While Bogosian’s shot didn’t find the back of the net, it still hit Shesterkin just right, giving Pat Maroon plenty of room to capitalize on the rebound for the early one-goal lead.
“(Bellemare) made a head’s-up play, and he hit me late and I came in the zone with speed just trying to get the puck somehow to the net and Patty buried it,” Bogosian said. “Any time you get a player like him — the puck somewhere around the net, he’s got soft hands, so it’s part of the game plan.”
The assist was Bogosian’s second playoff point of the season (he had an assist in the Game 4 win over Florida in the second round).
Fellow defenseman Jan Rutta wasn’t surprised to see Bogosian’s moves in front of the net, having witnessed similar ones in the Canadian bubbles during the team’s Stanley Cup run in 2020.
“It was great,” Rutta said. “Kind of Bogo playoff magic.”
Rangers look forward to home-ice advantage
New York let a chance to set up a potential series-clinching Game 5 at Madison Square Garden slip away.
But there was no great sense of regret among the Rangers, who feel confident in their ability to win a best-of-3 with their home-ice advantage still intact.
“Kind of how the series is supposed to go, right, in theory?” said left wing Chris Kreider. “Supposed to be able to hold serve, but I certainly would have liked to have won one here. Just got to go home and worry about the next game.”
Rangers coach Gerard Gallant was asked whether there was a risk in his players overhyping home ice. The Rangers faced the same situation now set before the Lightning. In Game 7 at Carolina, New York stormed to a 6-2 victory, the first road win of the second-round series.
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“No,” said, Gallant, who added he was hoping for a “homer series” and noted New York’s 8-1 home record this postseason.
“And I think if you look around the league, a lot of teams play a lot better in their home building, so we expect to play well. … The next one’s a real big one.”
Forward Artemi Panarin said the Rangers need to display more “hunger” but was optimistic about returning to New York.
“We’ve been in a worse spot before, so we’re OK,” he said.
Rangers’ center depth tested
The last thing the Rangers needed for Game 4 was additional losses to their center depth.
Entering the night, Barclay Goodrow was already fighting through injury after blocking a snap shot Sunday from Victor Hedman with the same foot he broke in Game 1 of the opening round against the Penguins.
And after taking pregame warmups on Tuesday, the Rangers scratched Ryan Strome — who left Game 3 early with a lower-body injury after getting cross-checked by Ondrej Palat — for Kevin Rooney.
So when Filip Chytil took a hit from Hedman into the glass with about seven minutes remaining in the second period, the Rangers’ center situation worsened. At the start of the third period, Chytil was ruled out for the remainder of the game (upper-body injury).
Afterward, Gallant was hopeful that Strome would be back for Game 5, giving him a “day-to-day” designation. As for Chytil, Gerard said “he should be fine,” but added the team would have to “wait and see.”
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