In a defensive battle, the Tampa Bay Lightning conceded a goal from winger Ondrej Palat less than two minutes from the end of the game to lift them to a 3-1 victory over the New York Rangers in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Final. Lightning now has a 3-2 lead in the series despite being dropped in the first two games of the series.
It was also the third match in a row that Balat scored
With 1:50 left, Lightning defender Mikhail Sergachev fired a shot off the blue line that made his way past a range of traffic ahead and beat Rangers goalkeeper Igor Shesterkin. While the goal was originally in Sergeachev’s favour, Balat got a piece of the puck on its way to the net and was credited with the outcome.
Over the past three games, Balat has scored three goals and two assists, including a three-point performance in Tuesday’s fourth game win.
After a first goal-free period, Rangers opened the scoring, courtesy of defender Ryan Lindgren. Lindgren scored from the board and turned the ball over the blocker Andrei Vasilevskiy. Lightning defender Zach Bogosian was trying to clear the area, but Lindgren was able to press play and score through traffic to give Rangers a 1-0 lead midway through the second half.
It was Lindgren’s second goal in the post-season and his first in the Eastern Conference Final. Defending Rangers scored the last goal in the team’s opening game five game against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Sergechev, who had been incredibly energetic throughout Game Five, scored the equalizer to hold the game 1-1 at the 17:34 mark of the second half. Defending man Lightning fired one through the legs of Rangers forward Kevin Rooney and somehow passed the Shesterkin puck in the second odd score of the evening.
Prior to the fifth game, Sergechev had only four assists throughout the entire post-season. The veteran defender finished off the pivotal match on Thursday with a goal and an assist.
Now Lightning will have a chance to advance to the Stanley Cup Final for the third consecutive season on the ice at their home in Game 6, which takes place on Saturday. Tampa Bay has an all-time 8-2 record when it leads 3-2 in a series of top seven. Additionally, they are trying to erase a 0-2 series deficit in a conference final for the second time in franchise history.
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