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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Brassard's Hat Trick helps Rangers force a Game 7 back at MSG

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Once again the New York Rangers had their backs against the wall as they faced another elimination game against the Tampa Bay Lightning down at the Amalie Arena. You all hoped that the Rangers were going to come out like gang busters and try to show the Lightning that they are going to make it difficult on them again.

But just like in games 3 & 4 down in Tampa the Rangers broke out and scored first. The line of Derick Brassard, J.T. Miller & Rick Nash came out and just took down the Lightning all by themselves as they earned thirteen points and got involved in six of the seven goals scored tonight. Brassard's first goal in the 1st period was a play where Dan Boyle kept the puck alive inside the Lightning zone and quickly found Miller by the net.

A quick pass by Miller finds Brassard who quickly backhands the puck over the left pad of Ben Bishop and converted at 3:36 of the 1st period. They took a two goal lead on the back end of the opening period as Keith Yandle ripped a shot from the near point that took a double deflection off two Lightning defenders and past Bishop, but a key save by Lundqvist before they made it two nothing as he stopped Steven Stamkos with the left pad. unfortunately former Rangers Captain Ryan Callahan pulled one back on the power play that gave the Rangers a one goal lead after the opening period.

But while there were no goals in the second, there was a ton of shots that Henrik Lundqvist faced and he was once again prepared for the task at hand as he made several strong saves and prevented J.T. Brown from rushing at him with a sprawling pad stop and the puck slithered away to the far corner. As the middle period ended there was some feeling that the Rangers were back in business and they could clamp down.

The third period was explosive and the goals were racking up. It got started with a three on one with that magical line as Rick Nash shot it from the far side that was a save by Bishop, then Miller got the rebound and found Brassard who ripped it and that was a magical save by Bishop turning his back on the puck, but J.T. Miller would finally convert his first NHL playoff goal by deflecting the shot off of Bishop and the Rangers took a two goal lead at 3:02.

Then the goal parade was on it's way as James Sheppard scored on a rebound where the Lightning confused themselves on a line change, then a great passing play that had a wide open Brassard who scored on an open net for his second of the game. Rick Nash would make it six between a pair of Nikita Kucherov goals and then an empty netter by Brassard to make the extra point on a touchdown and the first Rangers Playoff Hat Trick since Michael Nylander in 2007 against the former Atlanta Thrashers.

So now the focus is on Game 7 this coming Friday night at Madison Square Garden and while the Rangers record on elimination games has been spectacular, the truth is that this series has gone thru so many twists and turns you don't know how it will end. But the Rangers need to make sure that they don't go thru another Lightning defensive performance that doomed them in game 5 when the Bolts were blocking shots like there was no tomorrow.

For the Rangers, they need to play the same way they have been in game 6 and continue to get into the head of Ben Bishop as he was pulled after allowing six goals in this playoff game and the Rangers need to continue to throw that negative moment back in his head if they are going to close out this series and repeat as the Prince of Wales/Eastern Conference Champions.
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