This weekend is going to be incredible for hockey. Two Game 7’s in the conference finals featuring the league’s four best teams (based on roster, not solely on record). The first of the two went down last night and the Tampa Bay Lightning emerged as the victors.
Last night’s game was tight throughout. Both Henrik Lundqvist and Ben Bishop were spectacular, though Lundqvist was being left out to dry by his defence far more often than Bishop. It was scoreless throughout the game until Alex Killorn was able to slide a backhand through Lundqvist’s five hole (at 01:54 of the 3rd period) which the goalie never saw. Some are saying it was a softie, but it’s really hard to stop a puck which you never see and barely feel.
The Rangers never really responded to that goal. They were flat the majority of the game and it showed during the third. Less than 10 minutes later, Tyler Johnson (11:17 of the 3rd) set up Ondrej Palat, who went top corner, to beat The King and give the Bolts an insurmountable 2-0 lead.
Even with the goalie pulled for the final three or so minutes, the Rangers were never really able to get a really good scoring chance. Their shots were either being blocked by diving defenders or stopped by Bishop, who was a stonewall last night. In the biggest game of the season, guys like Rick Nash and Martin St. Louis were invisible and the depth guys just couldn’t get it done.
Half the Stanley Cup Final is set and now the Lightning await the winner of the Chicago Blackhawks vs. Anaheim Ducks series. My gut says Chicago tonight.