But the Rangers withstood the Lightning’s onslaught thanks to Shesterkin, who stopped all 15 of the Lightning’s shots on goal, including a breakaway by Kucherov, who had sprinted out of the penalty box and taken a long pass from defenseman Ryan McDonagh before having his shot kicked aside.
After a scoreless first period, the teams traded penalties. Rangers defenseman Ryan Lindgren and Lightning forward Ross Colton were both sent off after a scuffle behind the Rangers’ net. But just 15 seconds into four-on-four play, Zibanejad committed an interference penalty, giving Tampa Bay a four-on-three advantage.
The Rangers ended up with the best scoring chance when defenseman K’Andre Miller stole the puck from Kucherov and raced up the ice with his teammate Barclay Goodrow, who hit the far post.
Then the Lightning, who had minimized the mistakes that hurt them in the first two games, made two self-inflicted errors. Corey Perry was sent off for slashing after he hit Shesterkin’s face mask with his stick, erasing Tampa’s power play. The Rangers, who failed to score on their four power plays in Game 2 and were disorganized on their odd-man advantage in the first period, looked sharper.
Artemi Panarin and then Adam Fox made cross-ice passes to Zibanejad, who buried a 94-mile-per-hour one-timer past Vasilevskiy’s right side with 12:23 left in the period. It was Zibanejad’s 10th goal of the playoffs and his sixth on the power play, tying a single-postseason team record set by Adam Graves in 1996.
Less than a minute later, the Lightning’s Riley Nash ran into Shesterkin and was called for goalie interference, putting the Rangers right back on the power play. Again, Panarin found Zibanejad in almost the same spot to Vasilevskiy’s right, and, though Zibanejad’s shot was stopped this time, Kreider tipped in the rebound for his 10th goal of the playoffs.
In danger of letting the game — and the series — spin out of control, the Lightning needed to respond, and quickly. They got their chance about 30 seconds later when Rangers defenseman Jacob Trouba was called for interference.