TAMPA, Fla. -- The New York Rangers will be "angrier" heading back home after back-to-back losses to the Tampa Bay Lightning tied the Eastern Conference finals at 2-2, according to forward Artemi Panarin.
"It makes us more hungry and angrier. Sometimes that's good when you've lost. I think it's just how we'll react. I don't think we've lost our confidence. Only be more hungry next game," he said after New York's 4-1 Game 4 loss on Tuesday night.
The Rangers have been a different team at home and away in their Stanley Cup playoff run. At Madison Square Garden, they average 4.22 goals per game and give up 2.22 goals per game. On the road, the Rangers average 2.44 goals per game and allow 3.67 goals per game.
Most importantly, the Rangers are on an eight-game winning streak in New York, with their only postseason loss coming in triple overtime of Game 1 against the Pittsburgh Penguins in the opening round.
"I'm hoping it's going to be a homer series. That's what it looks like so far. We're pretty good in our building; they're pretty good in their building," Rangers coach Gerard Gallant said.
Gallant said he believes the Rangers can be confident going home. Just not overconfident.
"They better be calm, but they better go out and play harder. It's a two-out-of-three," he said. "We have the home ice. But we've gotta play better."
The Lightning found their game at home, frustrating the Rangers' top scorers. New York has scored one even-strength goal since the first period of Game 2. They scored three power-play goals in Tampa, including Panarin's in Game 4.
"They're back-to-back Stanley Cup champions. We're in the Eastern Conference finals playing a really good team," Rangers defenseman Jacob Trouba said. "I don't think we expected to come in here and blow the doors off the thing. This is competitive hockey. This is a really good team that we're playing. These are going to be hard games."
Forward Pat Maroon got the Lightning going just 2 minutes, 38 seconds into the first period. Defenseman Zach Bogosian carried the puck deep into the Rangers' zone and cut in front of the net. Goalie Igor Shesterkin came out to the top of his crease, leaving the net open for Maroon to tap home the rebound for his third of the playoffs.
Then it was the Lightning's star players doing their part. Nikita Kucherov scored on a breakaway at 13:07 of the second period, and Steven Stamkos all but put the game away at 4:56 of the third period for the 3-0 lead. Ondrej Palat, the Game 3 hero, assisted on both goals.
The Rangers are dealing with some injuries at this juncture of the series. Gallant said the team missed center Ryan Strome, who was unable to play because of a lower-body injury suffered in Game 3. Gallant said he's day-to-day. Center Filip Chytil, who left in the second period of Game 4 with an upper-body injury, "should be fine, but we'll have to wait and see," said Gallant -- the same kind of assessment he gave Strome leading up to his absence in Game 4, for what it's worth. Center Barclay Goodrow, who blocked a shot with a foot in Game 3, managed to play in Game 4.
"Every team is dealing with injuries. We like the depth on our team. I think we can manage and overcome injuries," Trouba said. "Do we miss them? Yeah. Do we hope they come back? Yeah. But we've gotta be able to play without them."
The Rangers leave Tampa in a familiar position, as the home team won all four games to open their second-round series with the Carolina Hurricanes, too.
"Best of three. Won two at home. Lost two on the road last time. That's how a series is supposed to be in theory, right? Supposed to be able to hold serve," forward Chris Kreider said. "But certainly would have liked to have won one here."
Trouba said he believes the Rangers can handle the Lightning's best.
"We're one of three teams left here. You expect their best. You want their best. And we want to show we can beat the best," he said. "We feel we're an up-and-coming team. We've arrived. We want to play these games."