Well, that was unexpected.
The New York Rangers stunned the Tampa Bay Lightning on Wednesday night, beating the back-to-back Stanley Cup champions by a decisive score of 6-2 to take a 1-0 lead in the Eastern Conference final.
The two teams kept things tight to open the contest, taking a 2-2 tie midway into the second period as both sides traded punches in a relatively equal fashion. Then, Filip Chytil broke things open, scoring one of his two goals on the night to ignite a Rangers run that saw them find the back of the net four more times to seal the win.
The Lightning simply did not have an answer. And when score effects kicked in and Tampa began to press harder than ever in the third period, Igor Shesterkin was his typically unflappable self, stopping 37 of the 39 shots fired his way to lock things down and lead his team to victory.
Everything seemed to go the Rangers' way at the most opportune time.
The club's stars showed up in a big way, with Mike Zibanejad scoring once and adding an assist, Artemiy Panarin potting a goal of his own, and Adam Fox contributing a helper. Those big guns were supported by the Rangers' vastly improved depth forwards, as the likes of Chytil, Frank Vatrano, and Alexis Lafreniere put up multi-point performances, while Kappo Kakko added an assist, as well.
While the Lightning certainly got their bell rung in Game 1, this series is far from over. Jon Cooper's squad has famously not lost back-to-back playoff games since 2019, with Andrei Vasilevskiy, in particular, being known for his ability to bounce back after a tough postseason performance.
This was certainly a tough one. Whether the Lightning can come back from it will be determined on Friday.