Madison Square Garden was electric on Wednesday night as hometown fans watched their New York Rangers demolish the Tampa Bay Lightning, 6-2, in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
New York stuck it to the defending champs, looking sharp on offense and leading a confident defensive effort against Tampa’s sluggish response all evening.
During a 2-2 tie in the second quarter, New York’s Filip Chytil received a pass from behind Tampa’s net and drilled in the score to go up, 3-2. He scored two in the second period, which featured a surge of offense from New York to go up 4-2, following Chris Kreider’s score in the first. Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibanejad solidified the victory with two scores in the third period.
The Rangers’ 3-0 regular-season record against the Lightning proved telling of an uphill battle for the Lightning this series.
A lagging offensive outing by the Lightning on an off night from goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy proved critical in Wednesday’s loss. Vasilevsky struggled: surrendering six goals on 34 shots.
Rangers goalie Igor Shesterkin continued his ascension in this year’s postseason, last seen in a superb outing in Monday’s Game 7 win against the Carolina Hurricanes.
On Wednesday, Shesterkin recorded 36 saves and helped the Rangers glide to a Game 1 win.
Tampa Bay was enjoying a six-game winning streak heading into Game 1 until New York trumped it with their seventh consecutive win at home this postseason.
New York and Tampa reunite on Friday for Game 2 of the ECF, live in New York.
Follow along on Twitter: @AlejandroAveela