Ben Bishop made 22 saves as the Tampa Bay Lightning shut out the Rangers 2-0 Friday night at The Garden to win Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals, winning the series 4 games to 3 and ending the Rangers season.
The Lightning now advances to the Stanley Cup Finals next week, where they will play the winner of Saturday’s Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals between Chicago and Anaheim.
In the series, the Rangers lost three of the four games played at The Garden, and were shutout at home by Bishop in Games 5 and 7.
Tampa Bay was the more aggressive team in the first period, outshooting the Rangers 9-5, but both teams appeared tentative, and the game was scoreless after the first 20 minutes.
Neither team scored in the second period. The Rangers failed to capitalize on two power play opportunities. Henrik Lundqvist made jaw-dropping saves on Jason Garrison and Tyler Johnson in the final minutes of the period to keep the game scoreless.
The Lightning finally broke the scoreless tie in the early minutes of the third period. Alex Killorn scored at 1:54, with a lot of traffic in front of Lundqvist, to make the score 1-0. Lundqvist would rob Cedric Paquette of a goal at 7:56. But later, Tampa Bay got an odd-man rush up ice and Ondrej Palat took a pass from Johnson and scored at 11:17 to make it 2-0.
Lundqvist was pulled with 3:44 to play, but the Rangers couldn’t get a shot past Bishop, and after 101 games, the Rangers’ season is over, five wins short of the Stanley Cup they – and Rangers fans everywhere – so desperately wanted.