Game 6: Lightning 2, Rangers 1 | Tampa Bay wins sequence 4-2

Who was the man? Lightning captain Steven Stamkos had a profession 12 months this season at age 32, and with that efficiency maintaining to date in these playoffs, it was solely becoming Stamkos could be the one to propel his crew to its third straight Stanley Cup Final. Rangers netminder Igor Shesterkin was stellar all night time, however Stamkos discovered a approach to beat him twice — together with, crucially, the third-period recreation winner simply 21 seconds after the Rangers had tied the rating. You might make a case for Lightning coach Jon Cooper right here, too, since Tampa Bay’s dedication to grinding out this win was evident from begin to end. But Stamkos, because the captain, can be a tone-setter there — and the truth that he scored each objectives provides him the sting.

What was the important thing? With how proficient the Lightning are up and down the lineup, the previous “knows how to win” line can really feel trite typically when speaking about them. But Saturday was the right instance of why it’s not. Yes, Tampa Bay’s stars shined — Andrei Vasilevskiy was his traditional closeout-game self, Stamkos scored twice, Ondrej Palat had two assists and the Lightning’s star defensemen managed the sport as at all times.

But there’s one thing to be stated for the Lightning, with all that talent, staying inside themselves and enjoying responsibly all night time, trusting they might break by way of finally. That’s been their formulation in these sorts of video games for some time now: They have scored two or fewer objectives of their previous six closeout video games. Vasilevskiy’s dominance in these video games has been a giant a part of that, after all. But the Lightning clearly know that in the event that they decide to shutting down their opponents, finally their expertise will win out. That retains proving true.

Key stat: The Lightning had 12 takeaways to a few giveaways. Granted, these could be the 2 most doubtful statistical classes by way of how the league tracks and counts them, however on this case, the numbers really feel true to how the Lightning performed Saturday. Tampa Bay largely took care of the puck when it had possession, pressured responsibly however efficiently when it didn’t, and it rode these parts to a commanding win that didn’t really feel as shut because it was on the scoreboard (a testomony to Shesterkin). Combine it with the Lightning’s willingness to dam pictures on the penalty kill, and it was a coach’s dream efficiency.

The second it was over: The Rangers did get a good look off an offensive zone faceoff with about 15 seconds left. But as soon as Mika Zibanejad’s shot was stopped and deflected behind the online, the Lightning weren’t giving New York one other probability. That was it.

The second of the sport: It needs to be Stamkos’ response aim. You felt for Shesterkin, who simply couldn’t shut his mitt on Stamkos’ preliminary shot. For as nice as he was all night time, Shesterkin will doubtless need each objectives again. But it was basic Lightning to tear momentum again immediately after Frank Vatrano’s power-play tally 21 seconds earlier — simply because the Rangers lastly noticed some hope. Bonus shoutout to Palat, who continued an excellent postseason with the stretch go that sprang the push.

Rangers fear meter: ⛳️🏌️‍♂️

Lightning fear meter: 🤠

Three stars

Coming up Wednesday

Lightning at Avalanche, 8 p.m. ET (Game 1)

(Photo of, from left, the Lightning’s Ondrej Palat, Steven Stamkos and Victor Hedman celebrating Stamkos’ deciding aim: Nathan Ray Seebeck / USA Today)

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