TAMPA, Fla. -- The Tampa Bay Lightning erased an early two-goal deficit and finished with a 6-5 overtime victory over the New York Rangers in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals Wednesday night at Amalie Arena. With the win, the Lightning take a 2-1 series lead.
The Lightning proved they're not scared of Lundqvist, as everything they wanted to do against him in this series was on display in this game. The Lightning limited his vision, created plenty of traffic in front and made him move laterally, taking the netminder out of his comfort zone. In the past two games, Lundqvist allowed 12 goals in seven periods.
Again, it was the "Triplets Line" that proved crucial. Tampa's Ondrej Palat scored a pair of goals, including the game-tying tally at 14:05 of the third period.
The first period was an exciting 20 minutes of hockey. The Rangers came out flying and looked like a totally different team than the one that lost Game 2 by a score of 6-2. New York quickly gained the early lead when Derick Brassard scored a power-play goal only 1:02 into the first period. His slap shot from the left faceoff circle beat Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop, who was completely screened by the Rangers' Chris Kreider, to the top left corner on the short side. New York added to its lead at 9:55 when Jesper Fast received a nifty pass from from Kreider. Fast produced a slick deke and beat Bishop to give the Rangers a 2-0 advantage.
Tampa kept pressing and finally was rewarded when Steven Stamkos scored his fifth of the playoffs at 11:07 of the first. Lundqvist failed to clear the puck into the corner after a rebound and Stamkos jumped all over it.
The second period was just as entertaining.
On a power play, Ondrej Palat scored his fifth of the playoffs to tie the game 2-2 at 10:32 of the second period. Of course, Tyler Johnson assisted on the tally. Johnson then notched his league-leading 12th goal of the postseason to give Tampa a 3-2 lead during a two-minute, four-on-four situation. With that goal, he now has 18 points in the playoffs.
The Lightning's Alex Killorn, who had been stoned by Lundqvist on three quality scoring chances, finally broke through and scored at 17:18 of the second period to give Tampa a 4-2 advantage. He showed great patience with the puck in front of the net, waited for a screen and beat Lundqvist. The Rangers, however, quickly responded as Fast notched his second of the game at 17:47 to cut New York's deficit to 4-3.
Tampa took an ill-timed penalty early in the third period and New York capitalized when Ryan McDonagh scored at 2:28 to tie the game at 4-4.
The triplets struck again when Palat scored his second goal of the game to give Tampa a 5-4 lead at 14:05 of the third. It was Palat's sixth goal of the postseason. He also has a four-game point streak.
Again, the Rangers came back and knotted the game at 5-5 on Dan Boyle's goal at 18:04. Prior to the goal, Tampa had a bad icing call that allowed for the offensive-zone faceoff for New York.
What it means: With the victory, and a 2-1 lead, the Lightning have momentum and a chance to put a stranglehold on the Rangers with a win in Game 4 Friday night. It is obvious Tampa's confidence continues to grow. The Lightning now believe they can beat the King and his court.
Stat of the game: Watching and talking about Tampa's Johnson has been so exciting for hockey fans this postseason. He has 12 goals and six assists for 18 points. If the Lightning advance to the Cup finals and find a way to win, Johnson would have to be considered a strong candidate for the Conn Smythe Trophy.
Injured: Tampa lost defenseman Matt Carle to an undisclosed injury early in the first period. He was on the receiving end of an open-ice hit by the Rangers' Derek Stepan. Carle struggled to get to his feet and was clearly shaken up as he made his way to the bench. He was on the bench but did not return for the second period. He logged only 1:36 of ice time. Fortunately for Tampa, coach Jon Cooper decided to dress seven defensemen in Game 3 similar to his lineup in Game 2.
Up next: Game 4 will be Friday (8 p.m. ET) at Amalie Arena.