Tampa comeback complete, Rangers season ends

The Rangers season has ended as Tampa completed the comeback in the Eastern Conference Final. Down 2-0, the Bolts won four straight on the backs of stellar defense and their top line. The Steven Stamkos line was the difference maker, as they put up over half of the Lightning’s points, compared to the Rangers top line getting less than diddly.

While the top guns didn’t deliver, this game was doomed from the start, with Kaapo Kakko getting scratched in favor of the definitely still injured and unable to skate Ryan Strome. Strome did not play in the third period, leaving the Rangers with 11 forwards as they tried to get a pair of goals to force a Game 7. Clearly that didn’t happen.

Igor Shesterkin was magnificent in this one, but there isn’t much he can do when the Rangers only score a goal a game in the last three games. That’s the story of the series, the Rangers inability to score at even strength, or at all, in the final games of the series.

Lightning 1, Rangers 0

Shesterkin likely wants this one back.

Rangers 1, Lightning 1

A clean faceoff win and Frank Vatrano made it evened with a great shot that beat Vasilevskiy, if just for a second or two.

Lightning 2, Rangers 1

Just seconds after the Rangers evened it, they allowed a break for Steven Stamkos. Shesterkin made the first save, but couldn’t hold it in his glove and the rebound went off Stamkos’ leg and in.

And that’s all she wrote. This run was magical, and this was one of the best times I’ve had watching this team. It was infuriating at times, and it feels like the Rangers could have won more games. But this was still the most fun I’ve had watching the Rangers in a long, long time. The difficult pieces to acquire are all here for the Rangers, so it’s just tinkering now. The Rangers will be back in the playoffs, and they will be making deep runs.

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