The read hot New York Rangers are halfway to their first appearance in the Stanley Cup Finals in eight years. And they are doing by slowly dismantling the two-time defending Stanley Cup Champion Tampa Bay Lightning, winning Game 2 by the score of 3-2.
It wasn’t the dominant performance they displayed in Game 1, but it was just enough as the Rangers head to Tampa Bay with a full head of steam. Not only have the Rangers won four straight games, but Tampa Bay saw it’s streak of 18-straight wins following a loss in the playoffs that dates back to 2019 come to a screeching halt.
Perhaps the winds of change are taking hold in the NHL.
The Rangers are playing like a team of destiny right now, and it’s hard not to think that they could wind up hoisting the Cup for the first time in 28 years.
That is sure enough to make New Jersey Devils and New York Islanders fans want to stick their heads in the sand.
“It’s a huge win for us, but we just get ready for the next one,” Rangers coach Gerard Gallant said. “They way we played the last two games, that’s the way we’re going to have to play to win the series. We want to battle hard, we want to compete hard and we’ve been a tough out so far.”
After falling behind 1-0, two guys who have rarely had their names uttered this postseason netted the first two Ranger goals of the game. K’Andre Miller took a shot near the circle, had it bounce back to him, before he slapped past goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy. Later in the period Kaapo Kakko found some space in the left circle and sent the puck sailing over the left shoulder of Vasilevskiy into the back of the net.
The game remained deadlocked at 2-1 until the third period when Mika Zibanejad took a feed from Adam Fox in a 2-on-1 with Vasilevskiy which ended in Zibanejad slapping the puck through for the score to give New York a 3-1 lead.
It was a much better time for Rangers goalie Igor Shesterkin who was incredibly good in goal once again for the Blue Shirts, recording 29 saves on 31 shots for his fourth straight win.
Are the Rangers a team of destiny? It sure looks like it.