The Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the New York Rangers 2-0 Friday in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final to advance to Stanley Cup Final for the second time. The Lightning defeated the Calgary Flames in seven games to win the Stanley Cup in 2004.
The conference final was a back-and-forth series, with the road team winning the final four games. The Lightning and Rangers each scored 21 goals in the series, and Game 3, which the Lightning won 6-5 in overtime, will go down as one of the wildest games of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
But with the series on the line goalie Ben Bishop proved to be up for the challenge, making 22 saves to win the series with his third shutout of the playoffs.
NEW YORK -- The once-promising and ultimately still successful season for the New York Rangers ended Friday at Madison Square Garden because they couldn't score.
Goals were hard to come by during most of the Rangers' run in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs. There were the three games against the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference Final when they combined for 17 goals at Amalie Arena, but the Rangers scored 28 goals in their other 16 games, including none in Games 5 and 7 at home in the conference final against the Lightning.
The Rangers trailed their best-of-7 second-round series against the Washington Capitals 3-1 and were down 3-2 to the Lightning. New York couldn't keep climbing.
"We could probably look back at it and say we chased too many series and we just ran out of juice," Rangers center Derek Stepan said Friday after the 2-0 loss that ended their season.
Here are five reasons the Rangers were eliminated:
ANAHEIM --Joel Quenneville prefers to balance his scoring lines, but the Chicago Blackhawks coach will opt for more horsepower at the top with one game left to decide the Western Conference Final.
The Blackhawks will start with right wing Patrick Kane playing next to center Jonathan Toews on the first line in Game 7 against the Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center on Saturday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, TVA Sports).
"I know Game 5, later in the game, they had some shifts together and I thought they were dangerous, and I thought they were really good last game as well," Quenneville said Friday after practice. "We'll start them together and we'll work it out and see what happens."
"Obviously it feels awesome, being able to go to the Stanley Cup Finals," said Callahan, who was Rangers captain from 2011 until he was traded to the Lightning in 2014 for Lightning captain Martin St. Louis. "The effort we put forth tonight, the way we played, it's an exciting feeling, my first trip there."
NEW YORK -- Watching the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference Final was like watching the little brother in a reality TV series grow bigger by the game before hitting the growth spurt that sent him towering over big brother like Victor Hedman over Tyler Johnson.
The Lightning are going to the Stanley Cup Final because in the end they discovered the best way to beat big brother is to ignore his reputation, age, strength and experience, and simply just stuff your best game down his throat with confidence and bravado befitting a champion finding his way.
That's what the Lightning did Friday to win 2-0 in Game 7 at Madison Square Garden against the New York Rangers. They played as close to a perfect road hockey game as possible.
"You shine the light bright on our guys, and they'll just put on sunglasses and walk right through it," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "It's unreal how they respond."
BISHOP, LIGHTNING PUNCH TICKET TO STANLEY CUP FINAL
Ben Bishop made 22 saves in the Tampa Bay Lightning’s 2-0 win Friday at Madison Square Garden in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final against the New York Rangers, clinching their second all-time appearance in the Stanley Cup Final.
* The Lightning, who have won six of their past seven visits to the Garden (regular season and playoffs) dating to Jan. 14, 2014 (2-1 W), reached the Stanley Cup Final for the second time in their history. Tampa Bay’s previous appearance was in 2004, when they defeated the Calgary Flames in seven games to capture their first Stanley Cup.
Bishop made 22 saves for his second shutout of the series; he won Game 5 here Sunday (also 2-0). Bishop is 2-0 in Game 7 in his first Stanley Cup Playoffs, and has allowed two goals on 77 shots in three elimination games.
"He's probably our MVP," Lightning forward Brian Boyle said. "He's our backbone back there. He's won us games. He's gotten us to advance. … [Bishop] stood in there and has been phenomenal."
Coach Alain Vigneault confirmed the injury after New York's season-ending 2-0 loss.
Asked how long McDonagh's foot has been broken, Vigneault said, "A couple of games."
McDonagh did not practice Thursday, but the Rangers said the absence was a maintenance day.
McDonagh, who declined to talk about his injury after Game 7, took the warm-up and started the game on the bench. He went back to the dressing room and didn't play his first shift until 12:41 of the first period. He played two more shifts before intermission then took a regular shift through the final two periods.
NEW YORK -- There was one last chant of "Hen-rik!" not the loud, insistent version that followed saves like the one he made on Tampa Bay Lightning forward Tyler Johnson in the second period, but more like a thank you from the Madison Square Garden crowd for a playoff of brilliant goaltending.
There was one more stick wave in recognition, one last goodbye before another Stanley Cup-free summer. Then it was time for Henrik Lundqvist to bid farewell to his six-game winning streak in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs and get ready for an offseason that's starting too soon.
Lundqvist and the New York Rangers came up one game short of a return trip to the Stanley Cup Final on Friday when the Lightning scored twice in the third period for a 2-0 victory in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final."
They remember the fluttering shot from the point that found its way past goalie Corey Crawford. They remember the stunned silence inside United Center after Game 7 of the Western Conference Final ended at 5:47 of overtime. They remember the empty feeling of coming just short of playing the New York Rangers in the 2014 Stanley Cup Final.
It's a feeling they've tried to erase but will carry with them into Game 7 of the 2015 conference final against the Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center on Saturday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, TVA Sports).