Lightning strikes Rangers, Tampa back in the final

The Tampa Bay Lightning did it again on Saturday night, pushing the New York Rangers to the brink of elimination.

After losing the first two games of the series following a long layoff courtesy of the Florida sweep, the Lightning came back to life and won what turned out to be the final four games of the series.

Tampa Bay, the two-time defending NHL Stanley Cup champions, will go for No. 3 on Wednesday in the Finals opener against the host Colorado Avalanche.

How dominant is this Lightning team?

Since Sergei Bobrovsky and the Blue Jackets knocked him out of the first round in 2019, Tampa Bay has won 11 straight postseason series.

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Andrei Vasilevskiy had recorded a shutout in six of his last seven series deciders and gave up only one on Saturday: former Panthers forward Frank Vatrano late in the third period.

Unfortunately for the Rangers, Steven Stamkos scored seconds later to give the host Lightning a 2-1 lead that he wouldn’t relinquish. It was the second of the Stamkos match.

It was a series of whales, and the next one should be even better.

STANLEY CUP FINAL

The Lightning are back in the Stanley Cup Final after beating the Rangers with four straight wins, including Thursday night at the Garden, as they try to clinch the treble.

— Brayden Point missed Game 6 but appears to be getting closer to a comeback.

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— The Colorado Avalanche certainly expected a Game 7 because its injured players now have three fewer days to prepare for Game 1.

— It certainly seems that the Avs have learned from their past mistakes.

— Injury updates for Colorado.

PANTHER

The Panthers’ season, as we know, ended a few weeks ago.

Here at Florida Hockey Now, we’re looking at the futures of various players as the offseason progresses.

Our last look was at Eetu Luostarinen, a restricted free agent who will likely get a little more cash from the Panthers in a few weeks.

Later this morning, we take a look at the future of Jonathan Huberdeau, with him entering the final year of his contract and all.

These stories are for our subscribers only, so if you want to join us here at FHN, why wait?

— Also last week, we took a look at what this offseason might look like for defenseman MacKenzie Weegar and Mason Marchment.

— Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli has Patric Hornqvist as part of his top 25 NHL trade targets.

— Sasha Barkov had a great season, but Patrice Bergeron wins the Selke for a record fifth time.

NATIONAL HOCKEY NOW, AROUND THE NHL

Although Ben Bishop’s NHL career ended due to a back problem, the Buffalo Sabers traded him on Saturday with the expectation that they will use his contract to help him get to the salary-cap floor.

Speaking of retired Buffalo goaltenders, the Sabers are retiring Ryan Miller’s number. Well deserved.

Pittsburgh hockey now: If Kris Letang leaves, the Pittsburgh Penguins will be watching. Tyson Barry?

Islanders Hockey now: What are the odds of Johnny Boychuk joining the New York Islanders as an assistant coach?

Washington hockey now: Taking a look at Trevor van Riemsdyk’s journey with the Capitals.

Also: Former Caps coach Barry Trotz a finalist in Philly?

CAFECITO CORNER

Don’t look now, but the Marlins are playing pretty well.

The Fish won a fifth straight game on Saturday and will take the three-game series in Houston after a fine win. How about getting out of a jam with no outs and the bases loaded?

“Don King is back.

— The Dolphins’ entire draft class is now under contract.

— Taking a look at the Miami Hurricanes and their work on the recruiting trail.

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