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Rangers to play Lightning in Eastern Conference Final

by David Satriano

Last season, forward Brian Boyle and defenseman Anton Stralman helped the New York Rangers advance to the Stanley Cup Final.

Now with the Tampa Bay Lightning, they will try to stop the Rangers from getting back there.

New York advanced to the Eastern Conference Final with a 2-1 overtime win against the Washington Capitals in Game 7 at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday.

Tampa Bay advanced with a 4-1 victory in Game 6 against the Montreal Canadiens at Amalie Arena on Tuesday.

Game 1 is Saturday at Madison Square Garden (1 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, TVA Sports).

Boyle spent five seasons with the Rangers from 2009-14 before signing with the Lightning as a free agent before this season. He had three goals and eight points in 25 Stanley Cup Playoff games last season.

Stralman played three seasons with the Rangers before signing with the Lightning in the offseason. He had a career-high nine goals and 39 points for Tampa Bay.

Trailing the Capitals 3-1 in the best-of-7 series, the Rangers won the final three games, like they did in the second round last season when they trailed the Pittsburgh Penguins.

New York is 7-0 at home in Game 7, and goalie Henrik Lundqvist is 14-3 when facing elimination since the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Forward Chris Kreider scored four goals against the Capitals.

The Lightning are in the Eastern Conference Final for the third time. The most recent was in 2011, when they lost to the Boston Bruins in seven games.

Last season, the Lightning and Rangers traded captains, with New York sending forward Ryan Callahan to Tampa Bay for Martin St. Louis, the Lightning's career leader in points.

St. Louis and Rangers defenseman Dan Boyle won the Stanley Cup with the Lightning in 2004.

The Lightning could start this series without Callahan, who missed Game 6 after having an appendectomy and is out indefinitely. He has three assists in 12 playoff games.

Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov scored six goals against the Canadiens. Linemate Tyler Johnson had two goals and five points and leads the playoffs with eight goals.

Special teams were a big reason the Lightning advanced. They killed 15 of 16 penalties, and their power play scored on 35 percent of its chances (7-for-20).

Callahan had four goals against New York when Tampa Bay went 3-0-0 in the regular-season series, played in a span of 15 days ending Dec. 1. Forward Steven Stamkos had two goals and seven points; Johnson had two goals and six points.

Goalie Ben Bishop had a 2.34 goals-against average and .900 save percentage in the three wins.

Lundqvist lost each game; he had a 4.74 GAA and .823 save percentage.

St. Louis scored twice against his former team. Forwards Derick Brassard and Derek Stepan, who scored in overtime of Game 7 against the Capitals, each had three assists.


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