TAMPA − While Henrik Lundqvist watched six Lightning shots whiz past him in Wednesday’s 6-5 loss in Game 3, the Rangers’ other Swede brought his A game.
Jesper Fast continued to impress in the playoffs with a two-goal outburst. He also drew the tripping penalty on Andrej Sustr to set up Ryan McDonagh’s game-tying power-play goal in the third period.
Still, the 23-year-old was in no mood to celebrate his individual performance in the postgame locker room.
“Right now I don’t see any positives,” Fast said. “It’s good for confidence, but the most important thing is the race to four wins (in the series) and today we didn’t get the win. I don’t feel that happy.”
Fast also appeared to tip a Keith Yandle attempt from the point that deflected off the post at 3:24 of the third that would have put the Blueshirts up 5-4 at the time.
“I don’t know if I hit (the puck) or not, but it did hit the post,” he said. “It was just tough to lose this game. (Getting a hat trick) wasn’t something I thought about too much. The most important thing was getting a win.”
The sequence leading to his first goal began when Derek Stepan collided with Lightning defenseman Matthew Carle in the neutral zone. With Carle dazed, Chris Kreider found Fast with plenty of ice in front of him for a breakaway try. As he sped toward Tampa goaltender Ben Bishop, Fast faked a forehand shot, used a nifty deke to his backhand and lifted the puck over Bishop’s right pad to put the Rangers up 2-0.
The Rangers were reeling at the close of the second period after surrendering four consecutive goals before Fast struck again. Stepan set up Kevin Klein with a chance in the slot, but when the puck was deflected in front, Fast pounced at the goal mouth and beat Bishop top shelf.
He has only six points in the playoffs (three goals, three assists), but Fast has been one of the most consistent performers on the Rangers’ best line with Stepan and Kreider. He has seemingly won every puck battle and he hardly ever makes a mistake.
On Wednesday, at least, he didn’t want any praise.
“Today we lost,” he said simply. “I don’t have (many) positive things to take from this game.”
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