New York has come back throughout the playoffs, and will have to again on Saturday in Tampa with the Lightning one win from a third consecutive trip to the Stanley Cup Finals.
The Rangers faced the two-time defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning, but they possessed a trump card: Fortress Madison Square Garden.
Even after losing two games in Tampa to allow the Lightning to tie the series, there was an unshakable sense of confidence in Rangerland coming into Game 5.
when the Lightning ended the magic with a 3-1 victory at the Garden on Thursday night, it was a hammer blow.
The Rangers started the night promisingly. Seemingly infused with energy from their venerable arena, they played from the opening face-off with an authority and crispness missing in Tampa.
Disquietingly for the Rangers, who clearly had the upper hand, it was also goal free. New York fired off eight shots, and Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy saved them all.
With 1:50 to go, Tampa delivered the coup de grâce, improbably again as Sergachev, from just inside the blue line, sent the puck through traffic and Palat deflected it home.
The Rangers won Game 2 at home, 3-2, and took a 2-0 lead in Game 3 in Tampa. But that was the high-water mark. Thirty seconds later, the Lightning scored and came back to win 3-2.