In a game that featured two elite goaltenders, it ended up being the offenses that rose to the occasion in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference final. Behind a two-goal performance from young center Filip Chytil, the Rangers topped the Lightning 6-2 to open the series on Wednesday.
Vezina Trophy finalist Igor Shesterkin had a strong outing in which he stopped 37 of the 39 shots he faced. On the other hand, Lightning netminder Andrei Vasilevskiy surrendered six goals for the third time in a playoff game throughout his career.
After the game was tied 1-1 following the opening period of play, Rangers center Frank Vatrano proved to be an asset on both ends of the ice. Just moments after skating back to break up a potential two-on-one scoring chance for the Lightning, Vatrano snapped a shot over Vasilevskiy's blocker to give the Rangers a 2-1 lead 7:50 into the second period. This came after Steven Stamkos over-skated the puck in the defensive zone, which allowed Vatrano to have a wide-open look at the net.
The Lightning did respond with a goal from winger Ondrej Palat just 42 seconds later. Palat was able to ram home a rebound past Shesterkin following a backhanded shot on net from Steven Stamkos. Following Palat's goal, that's when the wheels fell off for the Lightning as the Rangers scored four consecutive goals.
Chytil scored a pair of second period goals just five minutes apart to break a 2-2 tie. The 22-year old has scored five goals over his last three games and also registered his second multi-goal game during that stretch.
The Rangers' third line of Chytil, Kappo Kakko, and Alexis Lafreniere proved to be key difference makers in Game 1. The trio, which has earned the nickname the "Kids Line," tallied two goals and three assists in the series-opening victory. Lafreniere produced two assists while Kakko assisted on Chytil's first goal.
Chytil's second goal may have been the most impressive of his two tallies. Defenseman K'Andre Miller whipped a cross-ice pass to Chytil and he was able to square up and rip a scorching one-timer past Vasilevskiy. That goal gave the Rangers a 4-2 at the 15:43 mark of the second period and proved to be the difference.
Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibanejad added goals in the third period to really put the game out of reach. Zibanejad registered a goal and an assist and it was the sixth time that he registered a multi-point game throughout the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Wednesday's victory was the seventh consecutive home playoff win for the Rangers. The Rangers now own a 7-1 record when playing at home during the 2022 postseason. In addition, they've outscored their opponents 35-18 during their impressive run at Madison Square Garden.