The Lightning is back in the friendly confines of Amalie Arena as they look to close out the New York Rangers and advance to their third straight Stanley Cup final.
The Lightning are getting contributions from everyone up and down the lineup. Mikhail Sergachev scored his first goal of the playoffs to tie the game at one. And then Brenden Hagel scored his second playoff goal, an empty netter that sealed the 3-1 Lightning victory on Thursday night.
The Rangers have trailed in every series they have played in the postseason. The Rangers trailed Pittsburgh 3-1 before winning three straight to send the Penguins home.
The Rangers trailed the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2 before winning the series’ last two games to win the series 4-3.
Now the Rangers trail the Lightning 3-2 and will need to win two games to get to their first Stanley Cup appearance since 1994.
The Lightning is 2-0 this postseason in games where they have had an opportunity to close out the series. And they will look to put the Rangers away on Saturday, ending their season.
The Lightning will also be looking to come back from an 0-2 deficit to win a series for only the second time in franchise history.
The Lightning knows that the fourth win is always the hardest. Pat Maroon will be trying to win his fourth consecutive Stanley Cup. and talked about the challenge to win game six. “We obviously know the fourth one is always the hardest one to win. Our mindset has to be the same as the last three games, just go out there and try to win a hockey game, for one, but doing it the right way of playing hard and focusing on what we can control.”
Jon Cooper is doing his best to keep his team focused and not look ahead to the Colorado Avalanche. “We’re here to win the series, and we don’t care when we win it. We just want to win it. We have a great opportunity to do that. Just because it is an elimination game doesn’t mean we’re going to knock them out. If we don’t bring our best, it’ll be trouble for us because I know the Rangers will bring their best.”
The Lightning may get one of their best offensive players back tonight. Braydon Point took part in the morning skate, and Jon Cooper said it would be a game-time decision if Point would be able to play.
Point could skate with the team in pre-game warmups and then decide whether he can play tonight in game six.
Ryan McDonagh, who missed over 14 minutes of the game-five win in New York, is ready to go and will be in the lineup tonight.
The game will be tight early on. The Rangers are going to throw everything they have at the Lightning.
The Bolts will be ready for the challenge. Since the final period of game two, the Lightning has allowed the Rangers just two goals five on five. Also, the Lightning has been much better at staying out of the penalty box as the series continues.
There will be a trophy presentation on the ice tonight. However, it will not be the one this team wants the most. That trophy presentation will have to wait a few weeks.
The Lightning will defeat the Rangers tonight to advance to their third consecutive Stanley Cup finals. Only the first time in 40 years a team has accomplished that feat.
A win tonight will reaffirm the Lightning as one of the greatest teams in NHL history. They will take their place alongside the Montreal Canadiens of the ’70s. The Edmonton Oilers of the late ’80s. And the New York Islanders of the early 80’s as one of the greatest teams of all time.