Bolts strike in OT to beat Rangers, take 2-1 series lead

Tampa, FL ( - Nikita Kucherov's marker at 3:33 of overtime sent the Tampa Bay Lightning to a 6-5 decision over the New York Rangers in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals.

Kucherov carried the puck from the neutral zone up the right wing, then cut towards the middle below the circles and froze two enemy defenders with a wobbling shot that beat Henrik Lundqvist for the deciding score.

"For some reason I couldn't pick it up," Lundqvist admitted. "It comes at me and looks like it's coming towards me, and then I'm just late reacting. I don't know why I didn't pick it up. It's a tough one, it really is. It's really challenging for me the way they move the puck."

Ondrej Palat contributed two goals and one assist for the Lightning, who have taken a 2-1 edge in this best-of-seven series and can extend that in Game 4 on Friday. Kucherov, Alex Killorn, Tyler Johnson and Steven Stamkos each picked up a score and a helper for the winners.

Ben Bishop allowed a playoff-season high five goals but did just enough to earn the victory thanks to 23 stops.

Jesper Fast tallied twice, with Dan Boyle and Ryan McDonagh adding a goal and assist apiece for the Rangers, who also received offense from Derick Brassard in defeat.

Lundqvist tied a season high by allowing six goals on 40 shots.

New York received the game's first power play only 26 seconds in, and the visitors took a 1-0 lead just 36 seconds later as Brassard scored to the near post from the left circle with Chris Kreider screening.

Fast doubled the Rangers' advantage five seconds shy of the period's midpoint by beating Bishop on the backhand once sprung alone up the middle by a Kreider lead pass.

Stamkos kicked his club into gear when he pounced on a Killorn rebound left out by a Lundqvist kick save and converted from the right side at 11:07.

After the Rangers failed to convert on a Bolts bench minor in the second, it took the home team 21 seconds after Brassard was booked for hooking to even the score. Johnson fed Palat for a successful shot inside the left post just after the middle of the second frame.

Johnson was then left alone for an easy one-timer off a dish by Palat during a 4-on-4 and Tampa Bay gained the lead for the first time in the contest at the 13:17 mark.

Several more quality chances were stopped by Lundqvist until Killorn's rip under the crossbar through a Stamkos screen from their high slot made it 4-2 inside of three minutes left before intermission.

Fast alertly cleaned up a Kevin Klein rebound and the Rangers got back within a goal on the ensuing shift.

"It feels good for the confidence, but the most important thing is it's a race to four wins," Fast said. "Today, we didn't get the win, so I don't feel that happy right now."

McDonagh converted a Kevin Hayes pass on another visiting power play and New York drew even at 4-4 with 2:28 elapsed in the third.

Palat crossed up a pair of Rangers backcheckers, moving from the right wing into the slot and scored inside the far post with 5:55 to play and Tampa Bay assumed a 5-4 advantage.

"We just have a skilled team," Palat said. "We play fast. When we play 200 feet, we just chip the puck and make the D turn. Our speed is huge in the playoffs, and I think it worked against a team like that."

Boyle put a crimp in the hosts' plans when he hit the back of the net with only 1:56 to play and Lundqvist still in the net.

Lundqvist opened the extra session with a key save, stoning J.T. Brown on a clean breakaway roughly 2 1/2 minutes in.

"I can't say enough about the leadership and the character we have," Johnson said. "We were down 2-0 pretty early and able to bounce back. A little unfortunate that we were unable to get the lead, and then they come back and especially get that late goal with two minutes left. That kind of deflates you, but I think the guys rallied behind each other and we kept going."

Game Notes

Kucherov joined Martin St. Louis (2004) as the only Lightning players to record more than one overtime scores in one playoff year and became the third player in team history besides St. Louis (2) and Vinny Lecavalier (3) to post more than one OT tally for the club in his career ... Fast became the first Rangers rookie to record a multi-goal effort on the road since Mike Ridley on Apr. 9, 1986 in a 6-2 win over the Flyers ... Bishop had allowed a high of three goals on three previous occasions in these playoffs ... Lundqvist gave up six goals to the Maple Leafs and Islanders in back-to-back starts Oct. 12-14 ... The Swedish veteran has allowed 12 goals in the last two games against 66 shots for an .818 save percentage.