Rangers rebound, Brassard dominates to force Game 7

Mike Carlson/Getty Images

The New York Rangers are still alive ... again.

The Rangers forced a Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals with a 7-3 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning. The series will conclude on Friday night at Madison Square Garden.

Here are some of the most significant statistical storylines to come from the Rangers' Game 6 win.

A hat trick in Game 6? We’ve heard this before

Derick Brassard notched the second Game 6 hat trick in Rangers history and finished with five points on 10 shots.

As the Elias Sports Bureau noted, the only other Game 6 hat trick for the Rangers was by Mark Messier in the 1994 Eastern Conference finals against the Devils.

That game is one of the most famous in Rangers history, as Messier delivered after guaranteeing victory the day before.

This wasn’t quite the same. But it made for a neat coincidence. In each case, the Rangers trailed in the series three games to two and were playing on the road. Both hat tricks ended with an empty-net goal.

Brassard’s hat trick put him in good company in one other respect. The last Rangers player with a hat trick in a conference finals game was Wayne Gretzky in 1997.

Keys to victory

The biggest key to the game was that the Rangers got shots to the net. They put 34 of their 55 shot attempts on goal in this game (62 percent).

They got only 24 of 58 to the net in the Lightning’s Game 5 shutout (41 percent).

The Rangers also had all sorts of trouble getting to rebounds in the Game 5 loss, but they scored three goals off rebounds in Game 6.

The Rangers now have nine rebound goals against the Lightning in this series. The Lightning had allowed a total of three goals off rebounds in their first two series combined.

The Rangers’ 18 goals off rebounds this postseason are double the team with the next-highest total, the Ducks with nine.

The Lightning have had the best line on the ice in much of the series, with their “Triplets” line, spearheaded by the playoffs’ leading goal scorer, Tyler Johnson.

But the Rangers had the most dominant line in Game 6. The combination of Brassard, Rick Nash and J.T. Miller excelled at even strength. When Nash was on the ice, the Rangers had a 23-11 edge in 5-on-5 shot attempts. Brassard’s advantage was 22-11. Miller’s was 21-11.

The more traditional stats show this as well. Brassard finished a plus-5 (in goal differential) for the game. Miller and Nash were each plus-4.

Henrik Lundqvist rose to the challenge in net. The Lightning had more high-danger scoring chances than the Rangers (18-15), but the Rangers had more high-danger goals, outscoring the Lightning, 4-2.

High-danger shots are defined by WAR-on-Ice (the source for the shot-advantages stats) as those coming at the low-slot, from the inside hash marks down to the goal line.

Looking ahead

The Tampa Bay Lightning have twice played on the road in Game 7 of a playoff series. The final score in each game was 1-0. The Lightning won one and lost one.

The Rangers are 7-0 at home in Game 7s. The last six were one-goal wins. Each of the last four were 2-1 wins.