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Lightning clip Rangers to advance to Stanley Cup Final

Goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy made 20 saves as the two-time defending champion Lightning claimed the Eastern Conference finals 4-2

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-New York Rangers at Tampa Bay Lightning
Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos (91) celebrates with left wing Ondrej Palat (18) after scoring a goal against the New York Rangers in the second period in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs on Saturday, June 11 at Amalie Arena in Tampa.
Nathan Ray Seebeck/USA Today Sports

Steven Stamkos scored twice to lead the host Tampa Bay Lightning to a thrilling 2-1 victory over the New York Rangers on Saturday and send them to the Stanley Cup Final with the opportunity to claim their third consecutive title.

Goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy made 20 saves as the two-time defending champion Lightning claimed the Eastern Conference finals 4-2.

The Lightning -- who have won 11 consecutive playoff rounds, the third longest run in NHL history -- will face the Colorado Avalanche in the Stanley Cup Final, which kicks off Wednesday in Denver. It's Tampa Bay's fifth trip to the championship round.

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-New York Rangers at Tampa Bay Lightning
Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos (91) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal against the New York Rangers during the second period of Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs on Saturday, June 11 at Amalie Arena in Tampa.
Kim Klement/USA Today Sports

The Lightning, who have won seven consecutive home games, are the first team to reach the Cup Final in three consecutive seasons since the Edmonton Oilers in 1983-85.

Frank Vatrano replied for the Rangers. Goalie Igor Shesterkin made 29 saves in a brilliant performance, but it wasn't enough to prevent his team from losing a fourth consecutive game after winning the first two of the series.

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Stamkos netted the game-winning goal just 21 seconds after Vatrano tied the game in the third period.

The Lightning captain's shot off the rush was stopped, but Stamkos headed to the net and the rebound banked off his body and into the cage for his ninth goal of the playoffs with 6:32 remaining in regulation. It was the 41st playoff tally of his career.

From there, Vasilevskiy shut the door.

The Lightning controlled play from the drop of the puck. They finally solved Shesterkin when Stamkos opened the scoring just past the midway point of the second period when he raced down the right wing and converted a wrist shot from beyond the top of the right circle.

Vatrano's power-play goal at 13:07 of the third period tied the game. After a won face-off in Tampa Bay territory, Vatrano unloaded a one-timer from the point for his fifth goal of the playoffs.

The rest of the game was truly a goaltending duel. Vasilevskiy's biggest stop came in the middle of the third period when Andrew Copp had a golden chance to tie the score.

Shesterkin did everything he could to give his team a chance. He denied Anthony Cirelli on breakaway chances late in the first period and early in the second period and a clutch stop on Brandon Hagel in the third period.

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-New York Rangers at Tampa Bay Lightning
New York Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin (31) makes a save against Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Zach Bogosian (24) during the second period of Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs on Saturday, June 11 at Amalie Arena in Tampa.
Kim Klement/USA Today Sports

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