The New York Rangers quickly told the Tampa Bay Lightning that they won't be easy prey in the Eastern Conference Finals, and their youth trio is in impressive form.
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In the first game of the series won 6 to 2 by the Blueshirts on Wednesday, Filip Chytil, Kaapo Kakko and Quebecer Alexis Lafrenière were treated to cheers from the Madison Square Garden crowd.
Totaling a combined age of 63, they had five points, but more importantly, they dictated the pace of the game, especially in the second period.
Chytil notably netted a brace inside 5:34 and Rangers never looked back.
Also, the club's third line gives him the energy he needs when things don't go well. When the Lightning replied to the local favorites, the "Kid Line" followed up with dominant presences on the ice.
"It was close to their best meeting, if not their strongest," winners' head coach Gerard Gallant told NHL.com.
They went to difficult areas, scored great goals and made plays. They attack and form a group of confident youngsters. This must continue.”
One of the streaks symbolizing the quality of their overall performance is that of Rangers' fourth goal, Chytil's second of the game.
The latter crowned a presence of more than a minute in the opposing zone, accepting a cross pass from K'Andre Miller to thwart goalkeeper Andrei Vasilveskiy. The “Bolts” players had few answers to offer them.
“All three guys, we can play with the puck. We are strong deep in opposition territory and that is exactly what we were doing, Chytil claimed. We kept the same state of mind throughout the playoffs. The defenders helped us keep the disc in the offensive zone. It was a great streak that ended with a goal.
Chemistry takes shape
Gallant seems to have made an excellent decision in bringing the three hockey players together in the same line late in the regular season.
In the playoffs, he could have broken the combination by adding more experience on the line, but he preferred to be patient and it all paid off today. The youth trio have been dominant at even strength since the start of the team's run, which was in its 15th post-season meeting on Wednesday.
“That line was incredible for us,” praised veteran Barclay Goodrow. They bring a lot every evening. Everyone talks about the experience, but they don't seem to mind. They show up in the big moments and get important goals.”
“They improved a lot and contributed during all the series. They're nice to see in action, to be honest. They represent a huge part of our training, ”added striker Artemi Panarin.