The New York Rangers' best season since 2014-15 came to an end Saturday night with a 2-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final.
Trailing 1-0 with less than seven minutes to play, Frank Vatrano scored a power-play goal to tie the game. Steven Stamkos immediately responded with the game-winning goal for the Lightning 21 seconds later.
So the <a href="https://twitter.com/NYRangers?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@NYRangers</a> tied it... and then the <a href="https://twitter.com/TBLightning?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@TBLightning</a> took the lead back 21 seconds later... 😳 <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/StanleyCup?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#StanleyCup</a><br><br>🇺🇸: <a href="https://twitter.com/espn?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@espn</a> ➡️ <a href="https://t.co/Q6pgX3WR7C">https://t.co/Q6pgX3WR7C</a><br>🇨🇦: <a href="https://twitter.com/Sportsnet?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Sportsnet</a> ➡️ <a href="https://t.co/5TI9QXKueT">https://t.co/5TI9QXKueT</a> <a href="https://t.co/Qr4SZtNcKv">pic.twitter.com/Qr4SZtNcKv</a>
Despite not being able to see their team end this season the way they were hoping, Rangers fans have no reason to be disappointed with this showing. The team won a playoff series for the first time since 2016-17 and came within two wins of reaching their first Stanley Cup Final since 2013-14.
Joseph Percacciolo @JPercacciolo
IGOR IS BETTER… that much is true. rangers had no offensive pressure 5/5. This team is young and as a fan I am very proud of where we are. That being said TB has no chance against CO. Avalanche in 6. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/nyr?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#nyr</a>
The Rangers put together this playoff run despite not having Sammy Blais for most of the season. He tore his ACL in a Nov. 15 game against the New Jersey Devils. They also played without Barclay Goodrow, who had 33 points in the regular season, for three weeks because of a lower-body injury suffered in their first playoff game against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Goodrow did return midway through the Eastern Conference semfinals, but he only averaged 14.3 minutes in the past eight games.
The bulk of New York's roster should return next season. Ryan Strome, whose 54 points ranked fifth on the team, is the biggest unrestricted free agent. Blais' status will be a question mark because of his injury, but his status as a restricted free agent could leave a simple path to bring him back.
The Rangers had a terrific postseason run. They overcame a 3-1 deficit in the first round to beat the Pittsburgh Penguins in seven games. They had another seven-game series against the Carolina Hurricanes in which they won the decisive game 6-2 at PNC Arena.
The reigning two-time Stanley Cup champion Lightning proved to be too much for New York to overcome.
With an offseason left to make some tweaks to their roster, the Rangers look to be set up for a potential playoff run in 2022-23.