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Lightning lament 'unlucky breaks' in Game 4 loss

by Corey Long /

TAMPA -- Whether it was untimely defensive breakdowns or an unlikely bounce off of the leg of a teammate, Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Ben Bishop will need to put a 5-1 loss to the New York Rangers in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Final behind him quickly.

The best-of-7 series is now tied 2-2 with Game 5 at Madison Square Garden on Sunday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).

Bishop gave up five goals for the second consecutive game, but this time the Lightning offense couldn't bail him out. The Rangers scored two power-play goals during a four-goal barrage in a 16-minute span and are 6-for-15 in the series.

"You look at the last couple of games and the penalty kill has to be better, and that starts with me," Bishop said. "Six [power-play] goals in three games is just unacceptable. You look at some of the other goals and there's a couple things you might do different and a couple of unlucky breaks."

One of those breaks came on the Rangers' first goal. Rick Nash was able to fight through some weak defense by Lightning forward Cedric Paquette to create a breakaway, and his shot hit the post and bounced off the back of Bishop's pad into the net.

In the second period, Rangers defenseman Keith Yandle took a slap shot from the point that appeared to be going wide but deflected off Victor Hedman's leg past Bishop.

Beyond the bad breaks, Bishop struggled to control Kevin Klein's shot, allowing Chris Kreider's rebound to give the Rangers a 2-1 lead in the second period less than two minutes after Lightning captain Steven Stamkos tied the game.

"Nash goes off the post and they got a couple of breaks, but we have to play better," Bishop said. "[It was a] couple of unlucky bounces and a couple of saves that I'd like to make."

Much like Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist had to respond, making 38 saves after giving up six goals in Game 2 and six in Game 3, Bishop will have to answer with his best game of the series. He'll need help from a defense that has given up too many scoring chances.

"We had a few [breakdowns], and like I said [Friday] morning we're not going to win a lot of games conceding five goals," Lightning defenseman Anton Stralman said. "We definitely have a lot of things to clean up again."

The issues with Bishop and the defense took away from a Lightning performance that should have resulted in a closer game. Before Nash and Yandle were getting the right bounces, Tampa Bay forwards Tyler Johnson and Nikita Kucherov missed open chances.

Lightning coach Jon Cooper said it was just one of those nights when everything went against them. Tampa Bay had a 39-24 shot advantage and controlled long stretches of play in the first two periods.

"People are going to look at the boxscore and say, 'Oh, wow, Tampa got waxed,' but if you were in the building you probably didn't see it that way," Cooper said. "We had our looks. Could you ask for anything more in the first five minutes than to have Kucherov and Johnson by themselves in front of the net? And one would go wide and one hit the crossbar."

Tampa Bay will need its goaltender to have a clear head to win another game in New York, where the Lightning won Game 2 6-2 on Monday.

"It's a long year there's a lot of ups and downs, so there's no reason to dwell on it," Bishop said. "I thought we played a pretty good game and it could have been a different result. So we'll watch the tape and get ready for the next game."

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