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Ben Bishop, Lightning zap Rangers in Game 5

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Ben Bishop bounced back for the Lightning in Game 5, but what should worry the Rangers is that the Bolts beat the Blueshirts at their own game.

After allowing five goals in back-to-back games, Bishop made 26 saves and blanked the Rangers, 2-0, to put the Lightning ahead, 3-2, in the Eastern Conference final and the Blueshirts on the brink of elimination. While Bishop deserves credit for his second shutout of the postseason, the Lightning deserves even more for keeping the puck away from their hulking goaltender.

Tampa killed off four Rangers power plays, consistently clogged up the neutral zone and essentially won the type of game that favors its opponent.

“You’re not losing many games with a shutout,” Lightning defenseman and former Ranger Anton Stralman said with a smile. “Our game is defense-first. I know you guys haven’t seen a lot of it, but we definitely stepped our game up tonight. We took care of our own end before we went on offense and that’s when we play our best. We made sure Bish (Bishop) saw pucks. Our forwards did a great job blocking shots from the point and overall I think we did a good job.”

In fact, all three former Rangers played important roles in the Tampa win. Stralman was one of the best players on the ice and provided an assist, two hits, a takeaway and a blocked shot in his 23:49 on the ice. Ryan Callahan didn’t hold up coach Jon Cooper’s pregame guarantee that he would score a goal, but did tally four hits and a takeaway. Brian Boyle was perhaps the best example of the Lightning’s scrappy defensive effort with four hits, five blocked shots and 2:33 of short-handed ice time. Tampa allowed the Rangers just four shots on goal on their four power-play opportunities.

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“If anything, we proved to ourselves that we can play that style and be successful,” said Lightning captain Steven Stamkos, who tallied a goal and an assist and has now scored four goals in his last four games. “We didn’t panic with the puck. We talked about not being afraid to lose. … This group is getting more and more confident and we have the leadership core and the guys that are comfortable in these situations.

“It showed tonight.”

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