NEW YORK -- A pivotal Game 5 is on tap Sunday night (8 ET) between the New York Rangers and Tampa Lightning here at Madison Square Garden. Here's what to watch for:
Bishop needs to be better: Lightning goalie Ben Bishop knows he needs to better after giving up 10 goals in two games.
"Yeah. We all need to be better," Bishop said after morning skate Sunday. "We can't be trying to win games 6-5 every day. We watched some video, so we know what we need to do to get back to where we were before."
Bishop looked relaxed and sounded confident Sunday morning, very much looking like he’s turning the page. His approach in these playoffs is to try to keep an even keel and treat it like the regular season.
"When you play 60 or whatever games, you're going to have some good ones, you're going to have some bad ones," Bishop said. "You're going to have some lucky ones, you're going to have some unlucky ones. It's kind of the same in the playoffs. You just can't put too much emphasis on one game. There are going to be some games when you play really well, there's going to be games when you don't play well. You can't look at it in a real short window; you've got to look at it in the big picture, and I think that's the big thing. If you treat it like the regular season where there are going to be good games and bad games, it's easier to kind of move on."
Tampa tightening D: Lightning head coach Jon Cooper, no question, has told his players that they need to tighten up. While the NHL’s top-scoring team seems more comfortable than most playing in high-scoring games, it’s gone a little too much in that direction, even for them.
"I think if we're going to win this series, we have to judge how many scoring chances we're giving up," Cooper said Sunday. "If we get that mindset back in your forwards, and
whether it's the top six or bottom six, that's got to be the mentality.
"I think we've gone into these last few games thinking, 'Guns slinging, we're going to shoot this one out,' and we're not winning if that's going to be our mindset."
"I think it's important that we're on those guys," said Rangers winger Carl Hagelin, whose line with Kevin Hayes and Martin St. Louis matched up a lot against Tyler Johnson's line in Game 4. "They're not a very big line, but they're skilled and they're fast, so you have to do everything you can to slow them down."
Hayes and Johnson, in particular, had a few run-ins. There was lots of chirping in Game 4 as the tensions rose between the teams.
"I like those games," Hagelin said. "It gets a bit heated and hopefully they'll take a stupid penalty and run at you when they shouldn't run at you, and hopefully you can get a chance off of it."
Rangers' power play humming: The Blueshirts are 6-for-13 with the man advantage over the past three games, a weapon to be sure, especially crucial given how lethal the Lightning power play can also be.
"You know, the power play right now is moving the puck well, is getting some good looks," Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault said after the morning skate Sunday. "And on a few of them, we've had second opportunities, so that always helps."
Power-play success comes and goes as opposing PK units adjust, which Tampa Bay will try to do for Game 5, but right now the Rangers have it going.
"I think we’ve been able to make some plays," said Rangers center Derek Stepan. "It just seems when we get our chances, when we get our looks, we’ve been able to capitalize."
Stepan's streak snapped: Strangely enough, Rangers center Derek Stepan saw his six-game point streak snapped during his team’s 5-1 win in Game 4. Go figure that he’s one of the guys who didn’t find the score sheet. He had entered Game 4 with eight points in his previous six games (3-5) dating back to the Washington Capitals series.
He says he didn’t even realize it.
"No, not really," said Stepan after morning skate. "It was kind of weird with it being broken up in between two series. It’s hard for me to sit here and say it was me that put six games together -- it’s really our line that was a big part of that. We’ve built some nice chemistry."
Note: Matt Carle took part in morning skate after missing Game 4 with an undisclosed injury and Cooper said Carle would be available Sunday night.
Ondrej Palat-Tyler Johnson-Nikita Kucherov
Carl Hagelin- Kevin Hayes-Martin St. Louis