Rangers Take 2-0 Series Lead Over Lightning, ‘Kid Line,’ Shesterkin Keep On Rolling

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It was billed as one of the greatest goaltender matchups of all-time: Andrei Vasilevskiy vs. Igor Shesterkin. The two best goalies in the world, in form and representing their teams with a Stanley Cup berth on the line.

Through two games, advantage Shesterkin — and advantage New York Rangers. New York once again solved the 2018-19 Vezina Trophy winner en route to a 3-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals Friday from Madison Square Garden.

They say all streaks must end and the Lightning’s most impressive one did. You’d have to go back to April 14 and 16 of 2019 against the Columbus Blue Jackets to find the last time the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions lost two games in a row during the playoffs, the longest such streak in NHL/NBA/MLB history. Tampa Bay was 18-0 over that timeframe — now 18-1 after Shesterkin and co. stifled them at every turn. The Rangers now hold a 2-0 lead with the series shifting to Amalie Arena in Tampa for Games 3 and 4.

New York, New York – June 3, 2022: Igor Shesterkin makes a save with his skate on a Steven Stamkos breakaway in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

For the majority of 60 minutes, Tampa Bay looked like a team that’s played in 61 playoff games the past three postseasons, while the “Kid Line” kept on humming. The line of Filip Chytil, Alexis Lafreniere and Kaapo Kakko found the back of the net again, with the latter getting his second of the postseason to give the Rangers a 2-1 lead 17:32 into the first.

Kakko found himself tucked in behind the defense pairing of Victor Hedman and Jan Rutta, in perfect position for a perfect pass from Adam Fox. Fox delivered it on a silver platter for Kakko, who deflected it in pass Vasilevskiy. With the assist, Fox extended his home playoff-point streak to nine, only eclipsed by Hall of Famers Ray Bourque (10 in 1991) and Paul Coffey (10 in 1985).

“He’s [Fox] just a joy to watch when he comes on to the rink,” Shesterkin said after the game. “He plays like not many other defensemen can.”

ESPN studio analyst Mark Messier was so impressed by the 2020-21 Norris Trophy winner, that he said his game reminded him of former teammate Brian Leetch. Messier and Leetch were the leaders of the Rangers’ last Stanley Cup winning team back in 1994.

“Adam Fox put on a show,” Messier said. “He was the best player on the ice. He reminded me of Brian Leetch with the way he controlled the entire period.”

But it wasn’t just the “Kid Line,” nor was it Fox and Shesterkin only for the Rangers. After Nikita Kucherov converted on the power play just 2:41 into the first to give Tampa Bay a 1-0 lead, another kid, this time a blueliner, picked as good a time as ever to score his second career goal in the playoffs. It was K’Andre Miller who found twine just over three minutes later to tie things up at one, this one coming from the slot.

Mika Zibanejad’s snipe past the blocker of Vasilevskiy off a Kucherov turnover early in the third looked to be a back breaker for Tampa Bay, as New York seemed comfortable with a two-goal lead. But when Nick Paul answered for the Lightning with just 2:02 remaining in the third, it created a few tense moments for New York and Shesterkin.

Steven Stamkos, who came into the game with five goals during the postseason after scoring 42 in the regular season, had two golden opportunities for another –to perhaps send the game to overtime. With the net empty and Tampa Bay carrying a 6-on-5 advantage, the puck found Stamkos’ stick from his office, not once, but twice. Both missed the net altogether, after a flurry of chances that failed to get past Shesterkin.

The Lightning seemed to have found something in the third period, which they’ll try to replicate back at home.

“They’re a very skilled team and they can make you pay and I think we went back to the basics a little bit there in the third,” Stamkos said after the game. “Besides the goal that we gave up, we found some momentum there at the end so we need to just carry that over here.”

As for New York, there’s no celebration for winning Games 1 and 2. It’s four to advance and head coach Gerard Gallant is aware of that.

“I think we’re a good hockey team,” Gallant said. “We’ve played great hockey in the playoffs. We find a way to win games. It’s all about the next game. It’s the most important one now.”

The Rangers have now won eight home playoff games in a row, but will now turn their attention to playing on the road. It’ll be a Sunday matinee, at 3:00 p.m. ET on ESPN. Tampa Bay has won four home playoff games in a row dating back to the Toronto series.

Written by Nick Geddes

Nick Geddes is a 2021 graduate of the University of Central Florida with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism. A life-long sports enthusiast, Nick shares a passion for sports writing and is proud to represent OutKick.


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  1. A side note of this will be the repercussions in Toronto if NY wins. It’s ok to lose in 7 to the eventual cup winners, but they’ll have to react differently ( and probably not for the better of the team) if NY beats Tampa. A probableMaple Leaf circular firing squad is why I’m rooting for NY.

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