Sports

NHL PLAYOFFS

Lundqvist redeems himself, Rangers tie series

Don Brennan. (ERROL MCGIHON/Ottawa Sun)

By Don Brennan, Ottawa Sun

New York Rangers right wing Martin St. Louis (26) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal against the Tampa Bay Lightning in the third period in game four of the Eastern Conference Final of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena on May 22.  Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

New York Rangers right wing Martin St. Louis (26) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal against the Tampa Bay Lightning in the third period in game four of the Eastern Conference Final of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena on May 22. Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

TAMPA - The big noise coming from Amalie Arena Friday night was the sound of the New York Rangers kicking the door down to get back into the Eastern Conference final.

Henrik Lundqvist redeemed himself. Rick Nash remembered how to score, twice, and Martin St. Louis found the net again, too.

With all that going for them, the Rangers evened their Eastern Conference final at two games apiece with a 5-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Lundqvist, who had given up six goals in each of the last two games, was the difference maker while stopping 38 shots, including 18 of 19 he saw in second period.

"I think No. 1 our goaltender is one of the best in the league," said Nash. "Hankie has done a great job. I think other than that we got some bounces tonight. They had some really close plays that kind of went off our skates or we just missed the net. We've gotta tighten that up a bit."

Along with the pair from Nash - just his third and fourth of the playoffs - and the first of the post-season for St. Louis, also scoring for the Rangers were Chris Kreider and Keith Yandle, who added two assists for a three point night.

"It's fun to help out offensively," said Nash, who also had an assist, "I'm trying my best to do it, but sometimes you struggle and it gets frustrating, but tonight it went in."

Steven Stamkos had the lone goal for the Lightning.

"Our power play didn't get it going tonight, our PK wasn't good enough, the forwards were not good enough, the D weren't good enough, the goaltender wasn't good enough, we all weren't good enough in a full 60," said Stamkos. "We found a way to win last game, they found a way to win tonight. It's 2-2 and we'll turn the page."

Except now it's Tampa that has the question marks in goal, as Ben Bishop was lit up for the second straight game, this time while facing 24 shots.

"You never want to give up 10 goals in two games, but we did and now we got to go back and look at it and adjust," said Bishop. "Tonight I felt pretty good, but obviously on some of those you've got to make a save here or there."

The game was a close one until the third, when St. Louis fired in a one-timer after taking a pass in the slot from Derick Brassard, just past the five minute mark, and Nash scored his second of the night on a backhand from close in at 11:33.

The Rangers were in front 1-0 after one, but it was a precarious lead to say the least. The Lightning looked like the better team, buzzing in the second period.

Finally, Alex Killorn set up Stamkos for a one-timer from the top of the right wing face-off circle, and the Tampa captain made no mistake, cranking his shot just inside the far post to tie the game 1-1 at the 11:30 mark.

But the Rangers quickly re-established the lead. Kreider was in the right spot to put a rebound through Bishop's legs less than four minutes later, and 1:50 after that Yandle took a slap shot from the point that deflected off Victor Hedman's shin pad and wound up behind Bishop.

"People are going to wake up in the morning and look at the box score and say, oh, wow, Tampa got waxed," said Lightning coach Jon Cooper. "But I think if you were in the building, you probably wouldn't see it that way.

We had our looks."‹

Nash scored the only goal of the first period, looking very much like the power forward who netted 42 during the regular season. Taking a pass on the right wing from Kevin Hayes, he found another gear and some extra strength in breaking around Tampa's Cedric Paquette on his way to the net, where he also showed his deft hands by pulling the puck to his backhand and tucking it around Bishop.

This series, just four games old, has already had so many twists and turns. Now it's a best-of-three to see which team will represent the Eastern Conference in the Stanley Cup final.

Right now, it looks to be the flip of a coin.


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