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National Hockey League
Tampa Bay 6, NY Rangers 5
When: 8:00 PM ET, Wednesday, May 20, 2015
Where: Amalie Arena, Tampa, Florida
Referees: Brad Watson, Eric Furlatt
Linesmen: Derek Amell, Brian Murphy
Attendance: 19204

TAMPA, Fla. -- They call them the "Triplets" because the Tampa Bay Lightning's red-hot line of Ondrej Palat, Tyler Johnson and Nikita Kucherov seem to know each other's moves on the ice so exceptionally well.

The three combined for four goals Wednesday night, with Kucherov scoring the game-winner 3:33 into overtime, giving the Lightning a 6-5 victory over the New York Rangers at Amalie Arena and a 2-1 series lead in the Eastern Conference finals.

"It's huge to get the first W at home," said Kucherov, who's seventh goal of the playoffs was no doubt his biggest. "We have a lead now, and we're going to try to make it more."

It was a wild game, with both teams blowing two-goal leads, then the Lightning jumping back ahead with 5:55 left in regulation, only to see Rangers defenseman Dan Boyle tie the game with 1:56 left to force overtime.

"It's a one-goal game," Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. "I thought we showed a lot of character coming back and evening it up in regulation. We got a little unfortunate there on the game-winner, but our guys are battling."

Palat tied the game at 2 in the second on an assist from Johnson, and 2:45 later, Johnson gave Tampa Bay a 3-2 lead, scoring his NHL-best 12th goal of the playoffs on an assist by Palat.

Late in the third, after the Rangers had tied the game at 4, it was Palat that scored to give Tampa Bay the lead with 5:55 left, with Kucherov getting the assist, as well as defenseman Nikita Nesterov, who had assists on each of the final two goals.

Lightning coach Jon Cooper said much of the spotlight deservedly goes to top goal-scorers like Johnson and center Steven Stamkos, who scored Tampa Bay's first goal Wednesday. But he was impressed by Palat and forward Alex Killorn, who had a goal and an assist, as well.

"Those two were giants among men," Cooper said. "They play the whole 200 feet. They play hard, with speed, skill and unreal hockey sense. You need players like that, and they make a lot of other guys' jobs easier. They deserve some recognition that maybe other guys receive."

Kucherov's game-winner beat Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist, who stopped 34 of 40 shots in the game, capping a Lightning comeback that saw them overcome an early 2-0 deficit, then lose a 4-2 lead and a 5-4 lead in the final two minutes.

Tampa Bay has now won two straight heading into Friday's home game in Game 4.

Boyle forced overtime with 1:56 left in regulation when he poked in a loose puck after Lightning goalie Ben Bishop, who stopped 23 of 28 shots in the game, had stopped a long shot.

The Rangers had jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first 10 minutes, then saw the Lightning scored four straight goals for a 4-2 lead late in the second, then rallied back to tie the game at 4-4 early in the third.

Tampa Bay, down 2-0 midway through the first period, rallied for a 4-2 lead, getting three goals in a seven-minute span of the second period, two from Johnson and Palat.

The Lightning started the three-goal flurry with a game-tying goal on a power play with 9:28 left in the second. Johnson fed a perfect entry pass to Palat for his fifth goal of the playoffs.

"They're playing extremely well," Rangers center Derek Stepan said of the "Triplets" line. "We've got to find a way to slow them down. Hopefully we can find ourselves a little bit defensively."

Tampa Bay struck again for the lead with 6:43 left in the second. Defenseman Victor Hedman took the puck behind the net and fed Palat, who fired a centering pass to Johnson.

The Lightning kept momentum, taking a 4-2 lead on a goal by Killorn, who waited on a potential pass to Stamkos and then flicked the puck in himself for his sixth goal of the playoffs.

The Rangers closed within a goal 29 seconds later when right winger Jesper Fast scored his second goal of the game to make it 4-3. The Rangers tied the game at 4 early in the third, on the power play with 17:32 left, as defenseman Ryan McDonagh beat Bishop.

Tampa Bay, coming off a 6-2 win on Monday to even the series 1-1, stumbled out of the gate, drawing a penalty just 26 seconds into the game when center Cedric Paquette was called for roughing. New York capitalized on the ensuing power play, taking a 1-0 lead with 18:58 left in the opening period on center Derick Brassard's sixth goal of the playoffs, matching the team lead.

New York struck again in the first period on a breakaway as Fast beat Bishop for a 2-0 lead with 10:05 left in the first.

Tampa Bay quickly answered, however, pulling within 2-1 with 8:53 in the first when Stamkos, on a two-on-one, passed to Killorn, whose shot on goal bounced off Lundqvist and right to Stamkos, who fired in the rebound for his fifth goal of the playoffs.

NOTES: Tampa Bay LW Jonathan Drouin and C Vladislav Namestnikov were healthy scratches as they have been most of the playoffs. ... New York kept its same lineup, with C Mats Zuccarello and D Matt Hunwick as healthy scratches. ... Including the regular season, New York has tallied a power-play goal in four of its last five games, and 12 of its last 22 games. ... LW Ondrej Palat extended his point streak to four games with his three-point effort Tuesday. ... C Tyler Johnson scored his NHL-leading 12th goal of the postseason and added an assist in the game. Johnson's two-point night was his sixth multi-point game of the playoffs. He has now recorded four goals and one assist over the past two games.
Top Game Performances
NY Rangers   Tampa Bay
Jesper Fast 2 Points Ondrej Palat 3
Jesper Fast 2 Goals Ondrej Palat 2
Derek Stepan 2 Assists Victor Hedman 2
Ryan McDonagh 1 Power Play Goals Ondrej Palat 1
N/A Short Handed Goals N/A
Henrik Lundqvist .850 Save Percentage Ben Bishop .821
Henrik Lundqvist 34 Saves Ben Bishop 23
Team Stats Summary
Team Shots Goals Power Play Penalty Kill Penalty Mins Face Offs Won
NY Rangers 28 5 2-4 1-2 6 27
Tampa Bay 40 6 1-2 2-4 10 32
Upcoming Games
  • Tampa Bay will play their next game at home against NY Rangers. The Lightning have a W/L % of .560 after a win and .688 after a loss.
  • NY Rangers will play their next game on the road against Tampa Bay. The Rangers have a W/L % of .654 after a win and .633 after a loss.