NEW YORK (Reuters) - Dominic Moore scored late in the third period to lead the New York Rangers a 2-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning in the opening game of their NHL Eastern Conference final on Saturday.
Kevin Hayes threw the puck in front of Tampa Bay’s goal, where it bounced off ex-Lightning forward Moore’s leg and into the open net with 2:25 left to break a 1-1 tie.
“Dominic’s done a lot of good things for us throughout this season and to see him get that goal, the benefit of that bounce, the hard work pays off,” said Rangers coach Alain Vigneault.
Game Two is on Monday in New York.
The Rangers showed no signs of fatigue after their emotional Game Seven overtime win over the Washington Capitals on Wednesday as they pressed Tampa Bay.
The Lightning are searching for their first Stanley Cup berth since 2004, when they went on to win the coveted trophy.
Ben Bishop stood tall in the Tampa Bay goal, using his massive 6-foot, 7-inch (201 cm) body to turn aside everything that came his way.
Derek Stepan, the hero of final game against Washington with his overtime goal, finally broke the game open, slamming home a Chris Kreider rebound with just 13 seconds left in the second period.
The Lightning rallied to even the score in the third period with Ondrej Palat’s power play tally past Henrik Lundqvist with just less than seven minutes left in regulation.
The two teams looked headed to overtime before Moore’s go-ahead goal gave the Rangers’ yet another one-goal victory.
“I give them credit, they threw it on the net, the guys were buzzing around there and they got the break,” said Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper. “In a game like that, I think that’s how it was going to end up. It’s whoever was going to get the last bounce at the end and unfortunately for us they got it.”
The Rangers, who lost to the Los Angeles Kings in the Stanley Cup final last season, have shown poise in tight games throughout this year’s post-season and Saturday was no different.
All of the team’s nine playoff victories have been by one goal, six of those coming in 2-1 decisions.
“It helps us when we’re in that position almost every night that you keep your focus on the right things. That’s what it comes down to. We all understand that every play matters because it’s that close every game,” said Lundqvist.
Reporting by Alan Crosby, editing by Gene Cherry