The 2022 NHL Eastern Conference Final has, so far, played out to the expectation of most fans. The Tampa Bay Lightning playing against the New York Rangers is a properly exciting match-up. Two teams that pair up well against one another, creating a highly energising Final match-up. However, last night, things took a turn for the crazy after a late barrage from the Lightning left the Rangers fried.
The Lightning hit a late pair of goals to go back the Rangers, eventually winning 3-1 in a landmark victory. This leaves them just a single game away now from making it to their third Stanley Cup Final. Tampa Bay looked to be in excellent form and showed their mettle to come back and win late on. Mikhail Sergachev has scored in the game earlier before a late pair from Ondrej Palat and Brandon Hagel scoring with 1m50s and less than 1m remaining, respectively.
It left the Rangers fans stunned as their team endured a shocking late collapse in a game of such magnitude. Ryan Lindgren had scored for the Rangers, but it was for nothing as they ended up losing the game in rather shocking fashion. In arguably the tightest game of the series so far, then, Sergachev managed to flip the script and leave the Rangers wondering what they can do next to try and counter what just took place.
It was a shock result for sure, and has left the entire Conference Final on a knife-edge. With the Lightning having the recent history of success, they should be able to use that recent experience to stay ahead of the Rangers. Win one more game, and they can become one of the most consistent teams of the modern era and reach a third Stanley up Final on the spin.
Shock scoring lights up an incredible evening
The main shock came from the fact that Sergachev, a quality defender but never a scorer, was the one to break the deadlock. It was, after all, his first goal of the post-season – and what a time to get it. It came at a great time for the defending champions, leaving the underdog Rangers on the ice and absolutely shattered.
Now, the series returns to the Amalie Arena and on Saturday night we could have our Eastern representative confirmed. It will be hugely exciting to see what happens next – but given what we all just witnessed, it would be hard to put any real guarantees on a closeout victory over the weekend.
The Lightning, though, have the mettle and are battle-tested. The Rangers, while still excellent, probably lack the same kind of experience and recent history of winning in their playing squad. With their backs against the wall, fans will be hoping to see the Rangers respond in a way befitting of their history as a hockey force.
Either way, there is sure to be some fireworks and sparks on Saturday. So much can happen in the next few days, but at the moment it looks like the Lightning are building up a Stanley Cup storm.