Tampa, FL (SportsNetwork.com) - The New York Rangers staved off elimination yet again.
Derick Brassard posted a hat trick and two assists and New York beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 7-3 on Tuesday night in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals.
New York faced elimination for a fourth time this postseason, and for a fourth time it conquered the challenge to force a decisive Game 7 on Friday night at Madison Square Garden.
"We wanted a chance and we got a chance," said New York head coach Alain Vigneault. "Brassard's line was just unbelievable the entire game."
J.T. Miller and Rick Nash each had a goal and three assists, while James Sheppard and Keith Yandle also scored for the Rangers, who used a three-goal burst early in the third period to take control of the game.
Henrik Lundqvist improved to 15-3 all-time in elimination games as he stopped 36 shots for the defending Eastern Conference champions.
"Everything on the line again, and we found a way," said Lundqvist. "In the third (period) maybe our experience in these situations helped us because we played extremely well, a smart period."
New York's nine wins when facing elimination the past two years tied an NHL record.
Nikita Kucherov scored twice and Ryan Callahan had the other goal for the Lightning, who are looking to advance to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since winning it all in 2004.
Ben Bishop was tagged for five goals on 26 shots and Andrei Vasilevskiy gave up one goal on seven shots in relief.
Up by a goal, the Rangers made it 3-1 3:02 into the third period off a 2-on-1 break that saw the initial two shots stopped, with Brassard picking up his own rebound behind the net to the left and getting it out front for Miller, who banked it in off Bishop for his first career postseason goal.
Just under three minutes later, New York went up 4-1 after working the puck loose at the right point. Dominic Moore blasted it on net from the slot before Sheppard banged it in as he crashed the net for his first of the postseason.
Brassard then made it a 5-1 game at 7:14 when he wristed a shot from the right circle shortly after Nash had stolen the puck.
"In a matter of seven or eight minutes there we gave up more scoring chances and turned over more pucks than we did combined in 60 minutes in Game 5," said Tampa head coach Jon Cooper. "It's just more lessons learned and sometimes you have to go through the school of hard knocks to find out what works and what doesn't."
Tampa stopped the surge 36 seconds later after Tyler Johnson won a faceoff at the right circle and Kucherov quickly snapped it over the glove of Lundqvist.
But New York got the goal back on the power play just past the midway mark of the third when Nash pushed in a rebound for his fifth of the postseason and a 6-2 advantage.
Kucherov scored his second of the game with 6:39 to play and Brassard capped his hat trick into an empty net with 1:41 remaining.
The Rangers went on top just 3:36 into the game after a left circle faceoff win. The puck was about to go out of the zone, but Dan Boyle sent a turnaround pass from the left point to the circle where Miller quickly dished it to the slot and Brassard switched to the backhand before putting it in for his seventh of the postseason.
Tampa's first good chance came off a Kevin Klein turnover that saw him try to pass the puck from the left boards through the middle. Callahan picked up the gift and quickly shot it on net, but Lundqvist turned it away with about seven minutes left in the first.
Marc Staal was called for holding the stick moments later to give Tampa the first power play of the game, but Lundqvist came up big during the advantage as he stopped a Steven Stamkos redirect down low and the Rangers went up by two goals shortly after the power play expired.
Brassard wound up with the puck at the right circle before sending a pass back to the high slot for Yandle, who let fly with a shot that nicked off of Tampa's Matt Carle and went in for a 2-0 lead with 4:30 to play in the first.
Tampa scored on its next power play as Anton Stralman sent a lead pass through the middle for Callahan, who skated in on a breakaway and shifted to the backhand before lifting in a backhand for his first of the postseason.
Lundqvist turned aside 13 shots in the second period and Bishop made 11 saves to keep it a one-goal game.
The Islanders won nine games facing elimination in 1975 and 1976 ... Michael Nylander tallied the last postseason hat trick for New York in Game 3 of the 2007 Eastern Conference quarterfinals against Atlanta ... New York improved to 5-3 on the road this postseason, while Tampa fell to 5-5 as the hosts ... This is the first postseason matchup between these clubs ... New York is 9-5 in Game 7s, while Tampa is 4-1.