After getting shut out at home in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals, the New York Rangers erupted for seven goals on the road in Game 6, beating the Tampa Bay Lightning 7-3 on Tuesday to force a Game 7 at Madison Square Garden.
Derick Brassard (three goals, two assists), J.T. Miller (one goal, three assists) and Rick Nash (one goal, three assists) were outstanding for the Rangers, who are hoping to advance to the Stanley Cup Finals for the second straight season.
“An incredible performance by the line of Brassard, Nash and J.T. Miller – and in particular Brassard and Miller,” NHL on NBC lead analyst Eddie Olczyk said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “I thought they were really good in all three zones. I mean, the first play of the game, the first goal of the game, it was a terrific pass by Miller, but I mentioned during the broadcast that the reception was just as good as the goal. Brassard got it on his forehand and was just able to settle it down all in one motion, and he pulled it from his forehand to his backhand and was able to slide it through the legs of Ben Bishop and the rest was history.”
Well, almost history. The Rangers only led 2-1 entering the third period. Then the floodgates opened. Miller scored, James Sheppard scored, Brassard scored, Nash scored and then Brassard scored an unassisted goal in the final two minutes to record the hat trick.
“The Rangers just dictated the terms and Tampa had no response and no answer for it,” Olczyk said. “Obviously Tampa is a very, very good team, but they give up chances. Tonight was one of those where all of a sudden they were playing from behind and you start cheating a little bit if you’re Tampa and you start taking some chances and that creates opportunities.”
Game 7 is Friday at 8 p.m. ET. One must wonder if the Rangers actually want to play it at home. After all, they’ve scored just four goals in three home games this series – but 17 in three road games. In all, 27 goals were scored in three games in Tampa.
“You don’t see that over the course of five or six games, let alone three games in the playoffs in the Eastern Conference Finals,” Olczyk said.
We could be looking at a seven-game series out West, too. Chicago hosts Anaheim in Game 6 on Wednesday at 8 p.m. The last four games of the series have been decided by one goal, three required at least one extra session, and each of the last two ended 5-4 in overtime.
Game 5 was arguably the most thrilling game of the series, as Jonathan Toews scored two goals in the final two minutes of regulation to erase a 4-2 deficit and force overtime. Chicago had trailed 3-0 after the first period.
“It could have been 5-0 after the first period,” Olczyk said. “The Blackhawks, except for Corey Crawford, their legs were at baggage claim. They had nothing. Crawford kept it at 3-0. All of a sudden the Blackhawks had their legs and they were coming. They were coming.”
They were – until Anaheim’s Matt Beleskey scored 45 seconds into overtime to give the Ducks the 5-4 win and 3-2 series advantage.
“It’s amazing,” Olczyk said. “You just can’t figure either one of these series out when you look at the momentum and the swings and the surges that have happened in both the Eastern and Western Conference Finals.”