National Hockey League
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      ***** National Hockey League Previews from The Sports Network *****
                                Tuesday, May 26
                              (All times Eastern)
 
 NEW YORK RANGERS (2-3) AT TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING (3-2), 8 P.M.
 
 (SportsNetwork.com) - The Tampa Bay Lightning will try to become the first
 team to earn a spot in the 2015 Stanley Cup Finals when they host the New York
 Rangers in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals Tuesday night at Amalie
 Arena.
 
 The Lightning made their only trip to the Cup Finals in 2004, when they
 defeated Calgary in a thrilling seven-game battle, and with a 3-2 lead in this
 series they are one win away from getting back to the final round. However,
 before returning to hockey's ultimate stage Tampa will have to finish off a
 Rangers team which has been extremely difficult to eliminate in recent
 postseasons.
 
 New York has won 14 of the last 17 playoff games in which they have faced
 elimination, dating back to Game 6 of the Eastern conference quarterfinals in
 2012 against Ottawa. New York has won eight of nine playoff games when
 facing elimination since the start of last spring's playoffs.
 
 The Rangers also have posted an 8-1 record in Game 6 or 7 since the beginning
 of the 2013 playoffs and have taken three of the last five playoff series in
 which they trailed three games to two following a loss in Game 5.
 
 Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist has been the key reason the Rangers have been so
 difficult to get rid of in the postseason. The Swedish star has posted a 14-3
 record, 1.39 goals against average and a .956 save percentage in his last 17
 games in which his club has faced elimination. In his last six appearances in
 either Game 6 or 7 of a playoff series, Lundqvist has posted a 6-0 record,
 along with a 1.13 GAA.
 
 If Lundqvist and the Rangers can stay alive with a victory tonight, they will
 host a decisive Game 7 on Friday.
 
 New York is 4-3 as the road team in this postseason, while the Lightning are
 5-4 as the hosts.
 
 The last time these clubs faced off in Tampa was Friday night in Game 4, when
 the Rangers routed the Bolts 5-1 to even the series at two games apiece.
 However, after allowing 10 goals over the previous two games, Ben Bishop
 bounced back with a stellar performance in net to back the Lightning's
 defensive revival during Sunday's pivotal Game 5.
 
 Bishop made 26 saves for his second career playoff shutout and Steven Stamkos
 continued to display his renewed scoring touch to guide the Lightning to a 2-0
 victory over the Rangers at Madison Square Garden.
 
 Stamkos tied a franchise postseason record by scoring in a fourth straight
 game and also assisted on Valtteri Filppula's goal for the Lightning, who
 grabbed the 3-2 series lead by killing off all four penalties and blocking 24
 shots.
 
 "We weren't happy with the last couple games with the amount of scoring
 chances we were giving up," said Bishop. "We looked at it and we talked about
 it. I thought we did a better job tonight. Guys (were) coming up huge with
 blocked shots at the end there."
 
 Lundqvist, meanwhile, stopped 20 shots for the Rangers, who were unable to
 build upon their thrashing of the Lightning on Friday.
 
 New York was shut out for the second time this postseason. The Blueshirts also
 failed to score a goal in Game 3 of their second-round series against the
 Washington Capitals. The Rangers, of course, overcame a 3-1 deficit in that
 conference semifinal matchup to earn their third trip to the East finals in
 four seasons.
 
 The top-seeded Rangers are attempting to get back to the Cup Finals after
 losing in five games to Los Angeles with the title on the line last spring.
 
 Tampa grabbed a 1-0 lead on Sunday when Filppula scored his third goal of the
 postseason with 6:31 remaining in the middle period. Stamkos took a lead pass
 from Anton Stralman through the neutral zone and skated up the right wing
 boards. Filppula received a pass from Stamkos and beat Lundqvist's blocker
 with a far-side wrister from the right circle.
 
 "They gradually became more aggressive," Rangers captain Ryan McDonagh said.
 "The last couple games we've been able to make that play, anticipate our next
 play and kind of break that pressure. Tonight we didn't get as many of those
 looks, as many of those opportunities."
 
 The Lightning improved to 8-0 when scoring first this postseason.
 
 Tampa Bay continued its strong special teams play with a power-play tally.
 Nikita Kucherov faked a shot at the left circle and hit a streaking Ondrej
 Palat with a cross-ice pass. Stamkos finished off the tic-tac-toe play by
 tapping in Palat's feed from atop the crease for a 2-0 lead with 1:38 to play
 in the middle frame.
 
 Stamkos, who failed to hit the net in his first eight games of these playoffs,
 has six markers over his last seven games and seven goals in his past 10
 trips to the ice. His seven goals this spring mark the most he has scored in a
 single postseason.
 
 "Everything has kind of accumulated to this point right now," Stamkos said.
 "But when you have confidence, you try to keep it as long as you can, because
 it is tough to get at this time of the year."
 
 The Lightning hope to have defenseman Braydon Coburn in the lineup tonight
 after he missed the last two periods of Sunday's game due to an illness. On
 Monday, Tampa coach Jon Cooper said Coburn, who became physically ill on the
 bench in Game 5, was felling better and could return tonight.
 
 
 
 05/26 10:41:33 ET