The Tampa Bay Lightning have officially clawed their way back into the Eastern Conference Final. The Lightning took control of the game in the opening minutes courtesy of a Pat Maroon goal and never trailed in a 4-1 win over the New York Rangers in Game 4.
Star forwards Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos registered one goal apiece, while winger Ondrej Palat was also a force with a goal and two assists. It marked the third consecutive game in which Kucherov scored a goal and it was also his sixth point during that stretch.
In addition, goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy proved to be a brick wall in net, as he stopped 33 of the 34 shots that he faced. Vasilevskiy didn't surrender a goal until Artemi Panarin scored on a rebound with just 3:33 remaining in the final period.
Slow starts have plagued the Lightning throughout the series, but that wasn't the case in Game 4.
Just 2:38 into the contest, Maroon opened the scoring as he flipped home the rebound on an initial shot from defenseman Zach Bogosian. Bogosian drove to the net, completely undressed Rangers defenseman Justin Braun with a beautiful move, and put the puck on goaltender Igor Shesterkin to set up Maroon's tally.
The Lightning would add a goal in the second period courtesy of Kucherov. The Tampa Bay winger got in all alone against Shesterkin and ripped a low shot into the back of the net. Palat was the star of the play, as he whipped a terrific pass to Kucherov from center-ice on a rope to set up the breakaway.
Palat would impose his will once again early in the third period. During a scrum on the boards, Palat outmuscled Rangers forward Mika Zibanejad and skated the puck into the face-off circle, where he got a huge shot off. Shesterkin stopped Palat's shot, but Stamkos deposited the juicy rebound into the net.
It has proved to be a tale of two cities during the Eastern Conference Final as this win gives the Lightning an 8-1 record at home during the 2022 postseason. Meanwhile, the Rangers are 2-7 away from Madison Square Garden during the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The Eastern Conference Final is now tied 2-2 as the series shifts back to New York for Thursday's pivotal Game 5.