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Rangers Insider: Lundqvist still has upper hand on Bishop

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Mistakes and all, Henrik Lundqvist outperformed opposing goalie Ben Bishop in Game 3.Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Mistakes and all, Henrik Lundqvist outperformed opposing goalie Ben Bishop in Game 3.

ST. PETERSBURG — While Henrik Lundqvist is taking deserved heat for allowing Nikita Kucherov’s soft overtime game-winning goal in Game 3, he was still the best goaltender on the ice Wednesday night.

“We scored five on (Ben) Bishop last night,” Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said at the team’s hotel on Thursday afternoon. “That’s pretty good. He’s been an outstanding goaltender in this series and in these playoffs.”

Bishop, 28, the Tampa Bay Lightning’s athletic 6-foot-7 goaltender, surrendered more goals in Game 3 (five) than he had in Games 1 and 2 combined (four). It is the most he has given up in a single game in this postseason, the first of his NHL career in his second season as a full-time starter.

Previously, he had not allowed more than three pucks past him through 16 games. That included being pulled 25 minutes into Game 5 of his last series against Montreal after allowing three goals on 14 shots, but the Rangers scored five goals on just 28 shots in Game 3, while Lundqvist stopped 34 of 40 Lightning drives.

Bishop’s playoff goals-against average shot up from 1.83 to 2.03 by game’s end.


Vigneault said defenseman Keith Yandle was playing to his strengths in Game 3, and that it made him a good fit in key situations to counter some of Tampa’s offensive strategy.

“This is a team that forechecks real hard, five guys at you all the time,” Vigneault said of the Lightning. “(Yandle) was very good at beating the forecheck and making that good first pass, and when the opportunity was there to jump up in the attack he was using it. So he was an effective player for us last night.”

Yandle saw 16:15 of ice time, fewer minutes than he had received in the Rangers’ three previous matches, but his consistent impact on the game made it feel like he was on much more often.

He finished with two assists and made several strong one-on-one defensive plays, yet also committed a holding penalty that led to a four-on-four in the second period and Tyler Johnson’s goal.


Lightning captain Steven Stamkos was one game away from reaching the 2011 Stanley Cup Final before Boston beat Tampa Bay, 1-0, and advanced to play Alain Vigneault’s Canucks. After breaking his leg last season, missing out on Team Canada’s run to an Olympic gold medal and returning only to be swept in four games by the Canadiens, Stamkos is even more appreciative to be back in the Eastern Conference finals.

He has five goals and 14 points in 16 playoff games, including two goals and two assists in three matches against the Rangers, and made a game-high seven hits on Wednesday night, including one thunderous check on Blueshirts rookie Kevin Hayes.

“I remember a week later watching the Stanley Cup Final (and thinking) how that could have been us and how we would have beaten Vancouver if we were there and all that stuff that creeps into your head,” Stamkos said Thursday. “And then you say, ‘OK, we’ll get there next year’ and we don’t even make the playoffs for two years and then we get swept last year.

“Now we’re finally back in a similar position and, for me anyway, it’s pretty easy to go out there every night and at least leave it all out there because of how tough it is to get here.”

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