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Despite loss to Rangers, Lightning clinch playoff berth

The Tampa Bay Lightning clinched a playoff berth last night, after their loss to the New York Rangers. Even though they blew a two-goal lead, there is still some good news. That good news for the Lightning, is that they will get another chance at the Stanley Cup. Last year they reached the Stanley Cup Finals, and are now playoff bound for a third straight season.

With the Bruins losing 2-1 to the Hurricanes in a shootout, the Lightning were in before their game was even over. The Lightning (45-39-5) have two games left in the regular season to lock up second place in the Atlantic Division. The Florida Panthers clinched first on Tuesday, after their 4-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens and Tampa’s loss to the Rangers.

Tampa Bay could be without defenseman Victor Hedman and forward Ryan Callahan for the last two games though. Both are listed as day-to-day, Hedman with an upper-body injury and Callahan with a lower-body injury. They were already playing without defenseman Anton Stralman (fractured left fibula) and their captain Steven Stamkos (surgery to repair blood clot). Stralman and Stamkos aren’t expected to return for the first round.

The Rangers (45-26-9) clinched their playoff berth on Monday, and are still trying to get home-ice advantage in the Eastern Conference First Round with their comeback win.

With two games left in the regular season, the Rangers are two points ahead of the Islanders for third place in the Metropolitan Division and three points behind the second-place Pittsburgh Penguins. The Islanders and Pens also won Tuesday.

The Rangers may have to play without their captain Ryan McDonagh and veteran defenseman Dan Girardi. McDonagh is out with a hand injury, and will not play again in the regular season. Girardi was injured after getting hit into the boards by Boyle with 1:08 remaining in the third period. Girardi required assistance to get off the ice. Boyle received a five-minute boarding major and a game misconduct. Initial reports from the medical staff were positive.

Scoring Summary:

Lightning – 2

02:42 / 1st – A. Sustr (4) from V. Namestnikov (20), J. Marchessault (11)

06:07 / 1st – B. Boyle (13) from O. Palat (23), T. Johnson (24)

Rangers – 3 

16:55 / 2nd – D. Stepan (21) from M. Zuccarello (34), K. Yandle (41)

02:33 / 3rd – D. Stepan (22) from M. Zuccarello (35), K. Klein (16)

04:$6 / 3rd – C. Kreider (21) from M. Staal (13), D. Stepan (30)

Coleton MacDonald
The Founder of Weliveforhockey.com
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