Defending champion threatened: Rangers put Tampa Bay under massive stress

The New York Rangers have a 2-0 lead in the NHL playoff semifinals.

Defending champion threatened: Rangers put Tampa Bay under massive stress

The New York Rangers have a 2-0 lead in the NHL playoff semifinals. They defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning at home in the Eastern Conference finals. For the defending champion, this is the first time since April 2019 that there have been two consecutive defeats in the playoffs.

The New York Rangers are only two wins away from the final of the Stanley Cup in the play-offs of the North American ice hockey professional league NHL and have underpinned their ambitions for the longed-for first championship title since 1994. The "Broadway Blueshirts" also won the second game of the "best of seven" semifinal series against the defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning 3-2 at Madison Square Garden. For the team, it was the first time since April 2019 that there were two consecutive defeats in the playoffs.

"It's a huge win for us, but we're already preparing for the next one," said coach Gerard Gallant after the eighth home win in a row. After Tampa Bay's lead by star forward Nikita Kutscherow, K'Andre Miller, Kaapo Kakko and Mika Zibanejad scored for Rangers. The Sweden international scored his 22nd point of the finals, putting him in third place behind the star duo of the Edomton Oilers, behind Connor McDavid and German NHL pro Leon Draisaitl. The visitors' 2:3 goal by Nicholas Paul two minutes before the end came too late.

In the two home games of the East Finals on Sunday (9 p.m.) and on Wednesday night (2 a.m.), Tampa Bay, champions of the past two years, is under pressure. In the West Final, Draisaitl is 2-0 down with the Edmonton Oilers against the Colorado Avalanche, game three will take place on Sunday night (2 a.m.) in Edmonton.

Meanwhile, 63-year-old Canadian Darryl Sutter has been named Coach of the Year by the Calgary Flames. He prevailed in the "Short List" against Andrew Brunette (Florida Panthers) and Gerard Gallant (New York Rangers). Sutter led the Flames from the 1988 Olympic city to the Pacific Division championship this season. In the playoffs, Calgary lost in the second round of the "Battle of Alberta" to rival Edmonton Oilers with star player Leon Draisaitl.

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