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Stanley Cup playoffs: Palat, Vasilevskiy lead Lightning past Rangers to even East finals

Stanley Cup playoffs: Palat, Vasilevskiy lead Lightning past Rangers to even East finals
Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy made 34 saves in a win over the New York Rangers on Tuesday in Tampa, Fla. File Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo

June 8 (UPI) -- Ondrej Palat logged a goal and two assists Tuesday night and Andrei Vasilevskiy recorded 34 saves to lead the Tampa Bay Lightning past the New York Rangers in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals. The series is tied 2-2.

Nikita Kucherov, Pat Maroon and Steven Stamkos also scored in the 4-1 win at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Fla. Game 5 of the best-of-seven game series is scheduled for Thursday in New York City.

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"I don't think we were really satisfied or encouraged with our effort the first two games," Stamkos told reporters. "We knew we were going to make some adjustments and the coaching staff threw together a game plan and something we needed to focus on a little more.

"I think we've gone out and executed that. The urgency has been up. We've come back in front of our home fans and played two solid hockey games. We've got ourselves squared up in the series."

Left wing Artemi Panarin scored the Rangers' lone goal in the third period in the losing effort and goaltender Igor Shesterkin made 27 stops.

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"We've progressively gotten better," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "I think we took some more positive steps. We've started to find our game. Now we just gotta keep this going in New York."

Maroon lit the lamp for the first score 2:38 into the first period, scoring off assists from defenseman Zach Bogosian and left wing Pierre-Edouard Bellemare.

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The Lightning took the 1-0 lead into the second and Kucherov doubled the advantage 13:07 into the bridge period. The Lightning right wing beat Shesterkin after feeds from Palat and defenseman Jan Rutta.

Palat and Rutta later assisted Stamkos 4:56 into the third for a 3-0 Lightning lead.

Panarin scored on a power play with 3:33 remaining to put the Rangers on the scoreboard and Palat made the game's final score when he scored on an empty net with about nine seconds left.

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Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals is scheduled for 8 p.m. EDT Thursday at Madison Square Garden. Game 6 will take place Saturday in Tampa and, if necessary, Game 7 would return to New York. The winner of the series will face the Colorado Avalanche next week in the Stanley Cup Final. Colorado swept the Edmonton Oilers in the Western Conference Finals.

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