Henrik Lundqvist isn’t supposed to lose Game 7. And to be fair, New York’s 2-0 loss to Tampa Bay last night was in no way Lundqvist’s fault. For two periods New York’s attack was ineffectual, and its defense allowed the Lightning to get off a number of quality shots. Lundqvist saved them all. Even though they had been the lesser side, going into the third period the Rangers had to like their chances. After all, it was a Game 7 in Madison Square Garden, and they had Henrik Lundqvist. What could go wrong?
Unfortunately, I never saw it until it was too late. There were just a lot of people in front of me. I felt like I was tracking pucks well, reading the play well; it was just one of those plays where they threw it in front and [it went] through screens.”
That’s how Lundqvist described Alex Killorn’s goal, scored just under two minutes into the third period. Lundqvist had stoned the Lightning for two periods, but somehow Killorn’s soft backhanded shot barely managed to scoot through the five-hole. It was a painful way to concede the first goal of the game.
And that was it, basically. The Rangers had a couple of chances that fizzled out, but very few people watching really thought “these guys look like they have a comeback in them.” Ten minutes after Killorn scored, Ondrej Palat added an insurance goal.
A lot of the credit for the win—and he was named the first star for his efforts—belongs to Lightning netminder Ben Bishop. Bishop was not at his best this series. He got pulled from a 7-3 shellacking in Game 6, and let in five goals in both Games 3 and 4. What those three poor performances have in common is that they were at home, in Amalie Arena. In Madison Square Garden Bishop was sparkling, pitching back-to-back shutouts and allowing a total of four goals across four games. Bishop’s play is why Tampa Bay went 3-1 at MSG during the series, and why they were able to win Game 7.
Tampa Bay will play for their second Stanley Cup against the winner of tonight’s Game 7 between the Blackhawks and the Ducks.