Lightning strikes to close in on Stanley Cup Finals

Mon May 25, 2015 12:35am EDT
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By Larry Fine

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Tampa Bay Lightning stood firm on defense before striking with two brilliant second-period goals to move within one victory of the Stanley Cup Finals with a 2-0 road win over the New York Rangers on Sunday.

The victory lifted Tampa Bay into a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference Finals with the series heading back to Florida on Tuesday.

Neutralized in the first period and a half, the Lightning exploded into life during a sublime spell late in the second, sparked by Valtteri Filppula flicking the puck over goaltender Henrik Lundqvist's stick into the left corner after a feed from captain Steven Stamkos at 13:29.

Five minutes later, two perfect passes led to an easy power-play goal from the skipper that doubled the lead, leaving goalie Ben Bishop to protect the advantage by stopping all 26 shots to complete the shutout.

Tampa Bay, who led the National Hockey League in scoring, weathered four New York power-plays before taking charge at Madison Square Garden.

"It's not how many you score. It's how many you keep out of the net," Lightning coach Jon Cooper told reporters. "The boys committed to defense.

"Huge effort on the penalty kill. If they get the first one (goal), no telling how the game would go."

Stamkos said the visitors figured the Rangers would be fired up after their 5-1 Game Four win in Tampa Bay tied the series 2-2.   Continued...

May 24, 2015; New York, NY, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Ben Bishop (30), center Steven Stamkos (91) and defenseman Victor Hedman (77) celebrate a win against the New York Rangers game five of the Eastern Conference Final of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden. The Lightning defeated the Rangers, 2-0. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports