TAMPA – In the latest example of how wild and unpredictable this Eastern Conference final has been, Lightning goalie Ben Bishop went from a 26-save 2-0 shutout win in Game 5 to being pulled from his net 7:14 into Tuesday night’s third period with his team trailing, 5-1, in an eventual 7-3 Rangers Game 6 victory.
Bishop (21 saves, assist) looked shaky for the first two periods, surrendering Derick Brassard’s first goal on the Rangers’ first shot on net 3:36 into the first period. He also gave up two goals on the first six shots he faced, including Keith Yandle’s point shot that deflected off Lightning forward J.T. Brown 15:30 into the first.
Ironically, Bishop played his best in the early third period, but that’s when the Rangers erupted for three goals in a span of 4:12 to send him to the bench. Despite two stellar stops on the doorstep of a wide-open Brassard, Brassard stayed with the second rebound and hit J.T. Miller for a back-breaking goal for 3-1 at 3:02 into the third.
“They’re a good team,” said Bishop, who was hung out to dry by Lightning teammates losing structure. “That’s why they won the Presidents’ Trophy. If you stop thinking about your net for a little bit, that’s what can happen.”
James Sheppard’s crash of the net with almost the entire five Lightning skaters on ice standing still, followed by Brassard’s second goal of the game was all she wrote for Bishop, who was outclassed in overwhelming fashion by Henrik Lundqvist on the other end.
“I think in a matter of seven or eight minutes there in that third period, we gave up more scoring chances and turned over more pucks, more than we did in all of Game 5 combined, the 60-minute game,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “ For our team, as a group, we’ve never been this far before, and so it’s just more lessons learned, and sometimes you have to go to the school of hard knocks to find out what works and what doesn’t.”
It was the second time these playoffs Bishop was pulled. He was also yanked 5:08 into second period of Game 4 of the second round against Montreal on May 7, after allowing three goals on 14 shots in a 6-2 loss.
Ex-Ranger captain Ryan Callahan scored his first goal of the playoffs on the power play with 2:40 remaining in the first period to narrow the Rangers’ early lead to 2-1 and was an early force. He received a stretch pass from ex-Ranger defenseman Anton Stralman and was open after Ranger captain Ryan McDonagh strangely spun like a top in the neutral zone, reading the play incorrectly and unable to find Callahan behind him … Chris Kreider’s undisciplined cross-checking penalty on Steven Stamkos in retaliation for a nasty boarding of McDonagh gave way to Callahan’s power play goal … Kevin Klein had an extremely difficult night defensively, committing a bad turnover in the first that got Callahan going – though Henrik Lundqvist made the stop – and struggling defensively, including being burnt late in the third by Nikita Kucherov (two goals) … The Rangers’ first two power plays in the second period were dreadful and gave the Lightning all kinds of momentum. They both ended with Rangers missing the net with shots wide – Keith Yandle and Kevin Hayes the culprits – and led directly to Lightning odd-man rushes the other way, but Lundqvist made saves on Brian Boyle and Tyler Johnson to save his mates.
ZUCC, ZUCC RIOT
Mats Zuccarello (likely concussion) made a surprise appearance at Tuesday’s morning skate, jumping on the ice late with his teammates wearing a large new white and perhaps precautionary mouthpiece. He seemingly wasn’t supposed to skate but anxiously dressed and took the ice briefly anyway. He remains out indefinitely.
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