TAMPA, Fla. — To a person, the Rangers stated they knew the “push’’ was coming.
But when that predictable “push’’ got here from the Lightning — in all-out Mach 10 desperation mode Sunday down 2-0 within the collection and 2-0 in Sport 3 at house — the Rangers had been unable to muster sufficient energy to match that push.
So, right here we’re: An actual collection has damaged out within the Japanese Convention Ultimate, Rangers main 2-1 coming into Tuesday’s Sport 4 at Amalie Area as an alternative of 3-0 with an opportunity to shut this factor out earlier than going again house.
One among two outcomes would be the by-product of Tuesday evening’s Sport 4: The Rangers will both be going again to the Backyard with a commanding 3-1 lead or the Lightning, the two-time defending Stanley Cup champs with an iron chin, may have tied the collection at 2-2 having pickpocketed the momentum the Rangers had a stranglehold on after they flew to Florida.
“They’re not going to offer you something for nothing,’’ Rangers coach Gerard Gallant stated after Monday’s non-obligatory afternoon skate at Amalie. “They’ve gained 10 collection in a row. We’re going to must take it from them. They’re not going to offer us nothing.’’
Not for nothing, however right here’s what the Rangers should determine earlier than they take the ice towards the rejuvenated Lightning Tuesday: Learn how to play with the desperation and urgency they summoned after they had been down 3-1 to the Penguins of their first collection and after they had been down 2-0 and 3-2 to the Hurricanes final collection earlier than successful each in seven video games.
Certainly, this has been unfamiliar territory for Gallant’s younger crew that’s studying on the fly with every of those playoff video games. We already know the Rangers have the resilience and grit to return again. The place do you assume the “No stop in New York’’ slogan got here from?
Now the Rangers will learn the way good they’re as front-runners.
“For positive, I believe we all know how they’re feeling, being down,’’ Rangers winger Alexis LaFreniere stated. “We had been down the primary two collection. We have to handle these leads and be prepared for the total 60 [minutes].’’
Whereas they didn’t play poorly Sunday — they had been tied at 2-2 with lower than a minute remaining in regulation — ultimately the Rangers did not go their first check as front-runners.
Now they have to take care of a Lightning crew that believes it has discovered its footing on this collection. That leaves the Blueshirts in a little bit of a nervy place.
“Yeah, we’re getting a lot of expertise,’’ Gallant stated with a smile and a sigh, referring to the ever-changing situations his crew has confronted in these playoffs.
Expertise is a weapon for the Lightning in the meanwhile, having gained the previous two Cups and with a roster laden with stars.
“We needed to cease the Rangers’ roll,’’ Lightning coach Jon Cooper stated. “And hopefully that purpose with 42 seconds [Sunday] put slightly pin of their bubble.’’
There was distinct vibe from Cooper and a few of his gamers that they imagine they discovered a components for beating the Rangers.
“Eight minutes left within the second interval of Sport 2,’’ Cooper stated when requested when he felt issues change, talking about puck possession and puck administration and the way the Lightning turned the higher crew at even energy, which certainly, was the case in Sport 3.
“Issues began to click on,’’ Cooper stated. “We didn’t pull that sport out. We had been shut. In all probability didn’t should win that sport ultimately. However that’s when issues modified for us, that time in Sport 2.’’
Tampa Bay winger Corey Perry, who spends a lot time tenting in entrance of Igor Shesterkin he ought to pitch a tent, stated additionally he felt the collection shift in that second interval of Sport 2 on the Backyard.
“We discovered our legs, we understood the place we had been,’’ he stated. “It’s Japanese Convention Ultimate. There’s solely a handful of video games left. I believe guys actually purchased in and it’s a kind of issues the place it may need simply clicked and we discovered our groove.’’
As assured because the Tampa camp sounded, there, too, was warning.
“Not at all can we dangle our hat simply because we scored a purpose with 42 seconds left and gained a hockey sport and assume, ‘Oh, we’re good,’ ’’ Cooper stated. “That sport had extra time written throughout it, and who is aware of what occurs then? It will be newbie of us to assume that as a result of we snuck a sport out at that finish to assume, ‘Oh, we’re good.’ ’’
Perry stated the message along with his membership is common.
“It’s going to must be the identical [Tuesday],’’ he stated. “We have now to exit and do it once more. You’ll be able to’t take simply being at house with no consideration.’’
The Rangers can not, both.