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FHN Today: Lightning Strikes Rangers, Tampa Back in Final

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Lightning rangers

The Tampa Bay Lightning did it again on Saturday night, pushing the New York Rangers right over the edge of elimination.

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

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

How dominant is this Lightning team?

Since being swept out of the first round by Sergei Bobrovsky and the Blue Jackets in 2019, Tampa Bay has won 11 straight postseasons series.

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Andrei Vasilevskiy had recorded a shutout in six of his past seven series-deciding games and Saturday, he gave up just one — to 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 it would not relinquish. It was Stamkos’ second of the game.

It was a whale of a series — and this next one should be even better.

STANLEY CUP FINAL

The Lightning are back in the Stanley Cup Final after beating the Rangers with four consecutive wins — including Thursday night at the Garden — as it tries to pull off the three-peat.

— Brayden Point missed Game 6 but seems to be inching closer to a return.

— The Colorado Avalanche were certainly hoping for a Game 7 because now its injured players have three fewer days to get ready for Game 1.

— It certainly looks like the Avs have learned from their past mistakes.

— Injury updates for Colorado.

PANTHERLAND

The Panthers season, as we know, has been over for a few weeks now.

Here at Florida Hockey Now, we’re looking at the future of a number of players as the offseason plods along.

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

This morning, we take a look at the future of Jonathan Huberdeau what with him going into 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 how this offseason may look for defenseman MacKenzie Weegar as well as Mason Marchment.

— Frank Seravalli of Daily Faceoff 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 is over due to a back issue, the Buffalo Sabres traded for him on Saturday with the expectation they’ll use his contract to help get to the salary cap floor.

Speaking of Buffalo retired goalies, the Sabres are going to retire the number of Ryan Miller. Well deserved.

Pittsburgh Hockey Now: If Kris Letang leaves, the Pittsburgh Penguins will be out looking. Tyson Barrie?

Islanders Hockey Now: What are the odds Johnny Boychuk joins the New York Islanders as an assistant coach?

Washington Hockey Now: Taking a look at the journey taken by Trevor van Riemsdyk with the Capitals.

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

CAFECITO CORNER

Don’t look now, but the Marlins are playing some pretty good ball.

The Fish won a fifth consecutive game Saturday and will take the three-game series in Houston after a nice win. How about getting out of a no-out, bases-loaded jam?

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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