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NEW YORK – The New York Rangers will need another comeback to keep their Stanley Cup drive alive.
They again find themselves on the brink of elimination after Steven Stamkos set up Valtteri Filppula's go-ahead goal and scored another as the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Rangers 2-0 on Sunday night in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals.
Ben Bishop, who gave up 10 goals in the previous two games, had 26 saves in posting his second shutout and getting Tampa Bay within a victory of reaching the Stanley Cup finals for the second time in franchise history. They won the Cup in 2004.
The Rangers have wiggled out of this spot before. They trailed the Washington Capitals 3-1 in the conference semifinals and rallied. They also overcame a 3-1 deficit last year against Pittsburgh.
Game 6 is Tuesday night in Florida.
"We have to beat them to four games," Rangers center Derek Stepan said. "We have to go into their building, and find a way to get it done."
The Rangers will need more from their power play.
Tampa Bay killed off four New York power plays in clinical fashion in the opening 31 minutes of a scoreless game, allowing only four shots.
The Rangers failure to cash those man advantages turned the tide in the Lightning's favor as Stamkos added a power-play goal after Filppula opened the scoring.
"Our execution was a bit slow tonight on the power play," Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. "Because it was slow, it made it easier for them to defend. We didn't get many looks on it, and obviously that was a big part of tonight's game."
This was a game the Rangers controlled early. The power plays gave them a chance to put Tampa Bay down and they failed to convert, which was surprising because New York had two power-play goals in each of the three previous games in the series.
"They did a good job blocking shots tonight but you know we have to do a better job with those power plays," Rangers captain Ryan McDonagh said.
A little less than 2 minutes after the Lightning killed off a tripping penalty to Andrej Sustr, the Lightning took the lead and the excitement out of the Madison Square Garden crowd.
Defenseman Anton Stralman sent a great bank pass up the side boards to Stamkos. He carried the puck into the Rangers' zone, found Filppula coming down the middle and the center beat Henrik Lundqvist with a shot to the upper part of the net. It was his third goal of the postseason and probably his most important.
The Lightning had withstood the Rangers' push and they were in control.
"The penalty killing came up huge," Bishop said. "Obviously, we weren't very happy with the last few games. That really kept us in it."
After Marc Staal picked up his second penalty of the game, the Lightning needed just over a minute to double the lead. It came on a tic-tac-toe goal by Stamkos, his fourth in the last four games.
Nikita Kucherov sent the puck from the right circle to Ondrej Palat in the left circle. He quickly sent a cross-ice pass to Stamkos in front and the Lightning captain redirected the puck past a helpless Lundqvist, who finished with 20 saves.
New York pushed to get back in the game in the third, but Bishop stood tall when challenged shots by J.T. Miller and Derick Brassard.
Stamkos' four-game goal streak matches the Lightning playoff record set by Martin St. Louis in 2003 and also accomplished by Vincent Lecavalier in 2007.
After a couple of wide-open games in Florida, the first period of Game 5 was much more a Rangers' style game. They kept the play in the Lightning zone, drew two penalties and held a 6-4 edge in shots.
Tyler Johnson had the best chance for the Lightning early after a Ryan McDonagh turnover, but he missed the net. Chris Kreider missed the top corner of the net on the Rangers' first power play.
Having taken the 3-2 series lead, the Lightning now have two chances to win one game--and a ticket to the Stanley Cup finals.
"The toughest one to win is the fourth one," Stamkos said. "Especially this time of year, when it is to go to the Finals."
NOTES: Long-time Garden voice John Amirante sang the national anthem. He sang in Game 2 in the opening round in what was said to be his last appearance. ... D Matt Carle returned to the Lightning lineup after missing Game 4 with an undisclosed injury. ... The Rangers have allowed two or fewer goals in 13 of 17 postseason games this season.