The Tampa Bay Lightning are one win away from their second trip to the Stanley Cup Final in franchise history.
Securing their fourth win of the Eastern Conference Final won’t be easy against a New York Rangers team that thrives in do-or-die situations. The Rangers are 6-1 in games facing elimination since the start of the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs. That run includes two comebacks from 3-1 series deficits.
New York isn’t likely to be overwhelmed by the pressure it will face Tuesday night in Tampa Bay, but it needs a much better performance, specifically on special teams, to prolong its season.
Here’s a preview of Game 6.
Date, Time, TV Info: Tuesday, May 26, at 8:00 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network
Leading Scorers: Tyler Johnson (18 points, Lightning), Derek Stepan (12 points, Rangers)
Key Player For Rangers: Rick Nash, Left Wing
After a 3-point performance in Game 4 — his first career multi-goal playoff game — Nash was scoreless with five shots in nearly 22 minutes of ice time in Sunday’s Game 5 loss.
Nash has been held without a point in four of the five games in this series and must give a quality performance to help the Rangers stave off elimination against a Lightning team producing goals from up-and-down the lineup.
Key Player For Lightning: Victor Hedman, Defenseman
Hedman has tallied four points in five games against New York and is making a positive impact on the Lightning’s transition game with accurate breakout passes out of the defensive zone. When he’s not igniting the attack with a pass, he’s skating the puck into the offensive zone by himself.
Hedman also is helping to drive puck possession, evidenced by the Lightning controlling 59.15 percent of 5-on-5 shot attempts when he’s on the ice in the playoffs. Hedman’s performance will play a key role in the outcome of Game 6 with his ability to generate offense and assignment of defending New York’s top two lines.
Goaltending Matchup: Henrik Lundqvist has looked human in this series with an .894 save percentage and 16 goals against through five games, including two games in which he gave up six goals apiece. The Rangers still should expect a great performance from Lundqvist, though, as his record in elimination games is fantastic. He’s 14-3 with a .956 save percentage, a 1.39 goals against average and two shutouts in his last 17 elimination games. All three of those losses were on the road, however.
Ben Bishop was excellent in Game 5 with 26 saves in a 2-0 shutout. He has a .903 save percentage and 14 goals against through five games, so it’s not like he’s been lights out in this series. He made 18 saves in a solid performance against the Montreal Canadiens in Game 6 of the second round on home ice, and the Lightning will need a similar effort to avoid a Game 7.
Prediction: The Rangers are 4-1-1 on the road in the playoffs and have won their last three Game 6’s. Lundqvist will bounce back and give another great performance in an elimination situation to force a Game 7. New York wins 2-1.
Thumbnail photo via Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports Images
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