The New York Rangers entered Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals with their adrenaline still pumping from Monday’s Game 7 win at the Carolina Hurricanes. The Tampa Bay Lightning, in contrast, hit the ice for the first time since completing a sweep of the Florida Panthers way back on May 23.
Their respective layoffs showed in the Rangers’ 6-2 romp over the Lightning on Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden to take a 1-0 series lead.
“There was a lot of sharpness for us. Like we talked about, our team just kept going. We got a day off, we played a game, and it really looked good for us tonight,” Rangers coach Gerard Gallant said. “Obviously, they were a little bit rusty tonight. They weren’t the same, being nine days off. It makes a difference.”
New York was on the Lightning from the first moments of the game, as Chris Kreider scored on a Tampa Bay turnover just 1:11 into regulation for his ninth of the season.