Ondrej Palat scored after a deflection with 1:50 left to break a tie and lead the Tampa Bay Lightning to a 3-1 win over the New York Rangers Thursday night for a 3-2 lead in the Eastern Conference Finals .
Mikhail Sergachev had a goal and an assist, and Brandon Hagel also scored to help two-time defending champions Lightning claim their third straight win, the first by a road team in the series. Andre Vasilevskiy stopped 24 shots and the Lightning moved one win away from returning to the Stanley Cup Finals for the third straight season.
Ryan Lindgren scored for New York, who had won eight straight games at home. Igor Shesterkin finished with 24 saves.
Game 6 takes place Saturday night in Tampa, Florida.
Vasilevskiy made several sweeping saves midway through the third game, stopping attempts from Ryan Strome, Adam Fox and then Lindgren in a 32-second span to hold it at 1. Vasilevskiy also gloved a Kevin Rooney shot with about eight minutes remaining.
Shesterkin made a good save against an Ondrej Palat charge two minutes into the second half and Vasilevskiy saved Tyler Motte with a sliding block less than a minute later to keep the game scoreless.
Shesterkin then made several nice saves during a Lightning power play, including a slap shot from Nikita Kucherov to make it 4:14.
On the decisive goal, Sergachev caught a pass from Victor Hedman and fired a shot from the right spot through traffic in front of him, deflecting off Palat’s knee and past Shesterkin to give the Lightning their first lead of the night.
Sergachev punched Shesterkin from the right spot through the traffic in front of him to give the Lightning their first lead of the night.
The loss dropped Rangers to a 3-2 straight hole for the third time this postseason. They trailed 3-1 to Pittsburgh in the first round before clinching three straight wins to advance. They then trailed 3-2 to Carolina before winning the final two games to advance to the Conference Finals.
Rangers got their first power play of the night when the Lightning were called out for too many men about eight minutes into the middle. They managed two shots during the lead.
Shortly after the penalty, Rangers opened the scoring when Lindgren fired a shot from the left over Vasilevskiy’s right shoulder with traffic ahead, 9:31 in the third. It was the defenseman’s second of the postseason.
After a Lightning envelope, Motte fired a long shot that was gloved and choked by Vasilevskiy with just under three minutes left to keep it a one-goal game.
Just 30 minutes later, Sergachev equalized from center stage with a shot through traffic for his first goal of the postseason with 2:26 to go.
The Rangers passed the Lightning in a fast and flawless first half. New York had the only shot on goal of the first 5 1/2 minutes, a Braden Schneider slap shot 1:42 into play. Less than 20 seconds earlier, Tampa Bay’s Nikita Kucherov hit a post.
Nicholas Paul hit a post with 8 1/2 minutes to go and Shesterkin stopped a Riley Nash shot, leaving 6:48 on the blitz’s second shot on goal of the game.
Vasileveskiy made two fine saves a minute later, parrying slap shots from Artemi Panarin and Filip Chytil.