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Houston Astros vs Texas Rangers odds, tips and betting trends

The Texas Rangers (28-31) host the Houston Astros (37-23) in a clash of AL West rivals Monday at 8:05 p.m. ET. Rangers are underdogs at home (+136) against Astros (-158). The start … (Author: Gardener)

Houston AstrosThe Texas Rangers (28-31) host the Houston Astros (37-23) in a clash of AL West rivals Monday at 8:05 p.m. ET. Rangers are underdogs at home (+136) against Astros (-158). The starting pitchers are Cristian Javier (3-3) for the Houston Astros and Taylor Hearn (4-4) for the Texas Rangers. The Astros defeated the Marlins 9-4 in their last game yesterday. Jeremy Pena went 2-for-3 with a home run and two RBI to lead them offensively, while Justin Verlander clinched the win after throwing seven innings without giving up a earned three-hit run while hitting five. Eli White went offensively after going 1-on-3 with a home run and three RBI, and Joe Barlow earned the win by throwing an inning and giving up two earned runs on two hits while hitting one. Rangers Matchup, here's everything you need to get ready for Monday's baseball action. Major League Baseball odds courtesy of Tipico Sportsbook. For a full list of sports betting odds, visit the USA TODAY Sports Betting Scores Odds Hub. Astros (-158, stake $158 to win $100) Rangers (+136, stake $100 to win $136) Place your legal sports bets in CO and NJ with Tipico Sportsbook. The Astros have started 50 games this season as favorites, winning 33, or 66% of those games. Houston has a record of 18-10 in games where sportsbooks favor them with at least -158 on the moneyline. With the money line set for this matchup, odds makers have implied that the Astros have a 61.2% chance of winning. Houston and his opponents have hit the over in 19 of their 60 games this season. In 60 games with a spread this season, the Astros are 29-31-0 ATS. The right-hander's last appearance was Tuesday, when he threw 3 2/3 innings against the Seattle Mariners and gave up five earned runs while conceding six hits. The 25-year-old has played in 11 games this season with a 3.22 ERA, 3.5 strikeout-to-walk ratio and 1.142 WHIP. With seven starts this season he has earned a quality start. Javier has made four starts from five innings or more in seven chances this season and is averaging 4.0 frames when he serves. The Rangers have clinched 257 runs this season, which ranks 18th in the MLB. They have 470 hits, 24th in baseball, with 76 home runs (seventh in the league). This season, the right-hander has played in two games against the Rangers, and they've won 7-for-38 with a double, two homers and three RBI over 11 innings. The Astros rank sixth in Major League Baseball with 77 homers. Hitters for the Astros have a combined slugging percentage of .411 this season, which ranks ninth in the MLB. Houston has a .238 team batting average this season, which ranks 19th among MLB teams. The Astros have 248 runs (4.1 per game) this season, which ranks 23rd in the MLB. Houston has an OBP of .316 this season, which ranks 13th in the MLB. The Astros have shown patience this season with the fourth-best strikeout rate per game (7.5) among MLB offenses. Rangers have been underdogs in 44 games this season and have won 22 times (50%) in those competitions. This year Texas has won seven of 16 games when listed on the moneyline at +136 or worse. Rangers have an implied winning probability of 42.4% according to the moneyline established by sportsbook for this matchup. Texas and its opponents have topped in 26 of their 60 games this season with an overall score set by sportsbook. Rangers have one-line against the 35-25-0 spread mark in 60 games this season. Hearn (4-4) gets the starting gun for Rangers in his 12th start of the season. He pitched a 5.40 ERA in 50 innings, with 47 strikeouts. In his last game Tuesday against the Cleveland Guardians, the left-hander went 5 2/3 innings, giving up three earned runs and giving up four hits. The 27-year-old has had a 5.40 ERA and 8.5 strikeouts per nine innings in 11 games this season while yielding a .279 batting average to opposing hitters. Hearn will be attempting to record his sixth five-innings or more matchup this season. The opposing Astros offense has the ninth slugging percentage (.411) and sixth in homers hit (77) in all of MLB. They have a .238 collective batting average and are 21st in the league with 474 total hits and 23rd in MLB action with 248 runs. Going neck-and-neck against the Astros this season, Hearn has played 9 2/3 innings and given up eight earned runs on 11 hits while batting six. The Rangers rank seventh in MLB play with a total of 76 home runs. This season, the Rangers are ranked 16th in baseball with a .389 slugging percentage. Texas' batting average of .234 ranks 22nd in the MLB. The Rangers' offense is baseball's No. 18 offense, averaging 4.4 runs per game (257 runs overall). Texas is 27th in baseball with a .293 on-base percentage. The Rangers hit 8.5 times per game, the No. 14 in baseball. Place your legal online sports bets in CO and NJ at Tipico Sportsbook now. Gannett may earn revenue from Tipico for viewer recommendations on betting services. General terms and conditions see Tipico.com.

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Rangers' wildly successful season ended on an odd note

A deep playoff run and two games from the cup final exceeded expectations, but the final game, in which Kakko was scratched, was a head-scratcher. (Author: Gardener)

RangersIn his first year as Rangers manager, Gerard Gallant was a finalist for the Jack Adams Award for Manager of the Year. Gallant didn't win the award, which went to Calgary's Darryl Sutter, but he had a good year. Rangers started the season with a playoffs-or-bust mandate, and they recognized that easily, amassing 110 points in the regular season and clinching the seventh-best total points in the 32-team league with the Lightning. As they reached the postseason, they bounced back from a 3-1 deficit to beat the Penguins in the first round and then bounced back from a 3-2 deficit to defeat the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 7 — down the road - batting to advance to the Eastern Conference playoff against two-time Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning. Rangers grabbed a 2-0 lead in the Lightning and a 2-0 lead in Game 3 before losing that game and the next three to lose the series that ended with Saturday's 2-1 loss in Game 6 in Tampa ended. Still, the first season the Rangers opened the Stanley Cup window was a wildly successful one, probably more so than anyone could have predicted. But the season ended on an odd note for Gallant, who opted to scrape 2019 overall No. 2 forward Kaapo Kakko in the final game of the season on Saturday. Whatever Gallant argued to scratch Kakko, it didn't seem to help the Rangers reverse the role the Lightning had been given. Tampa Bay scored two goals from captain Steven Stamkos, and the second, game-winning goal came just 21 seconds after Frank Vatrano's power-play goal leveled the 1-1 with 6:53 left. Well, if Gallant honestly believed that the older, faster, more physical Dryden Hunt gave the team a better chance of winning on Saturday than Kakko - and he must have done it, or he wouldn't have - then of course he had to do it this call. But why didn't he want to explain that? Several young Rangers have made great strides under Gallant this season. Sophomore defenseman K'Andre Miller, 22, continued to develop into a confident, minute-guzzling two-way defender, and sophomore forward Alexis Lafrenière, the 2020 draft pick at No. 1, has been criticized a few times von Gallant early in the season, scored 19 goals in the regular season and had strong playoffs. Center Filip Chytil, 22, struggled in the regular season but thrived in the playoffs. Rangers will look different next season. Will Rangers, who have serious salary cap issues next season, want to bring him back? On Sunday, forward Vitaly Kravtsov's agent announced on Twitter that his client had signed a one-year contract extension with Rangers worth $875,000. Could Kravtsov, who spent the season in Russia after turning down his stint with AHL Hartford last fall, be a potential replacement for Kakko?

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The Rangers end the 12-inning win over the White Sox with a 7-5 doubles

CHICAGO (AP) -- Jonah Heim hit a two-run single in the 12th inning and the Texas Rangers turned a double play on a ball hit to the warning lane to earn an 8-6 win over the Chicago White Sox on Sunday break up. It started with right-hander Michael Kopech leaving after 13 pitches with a problem in his right knee and ended with an unusual double play in 12th place. José Abreu struck... (Author: Gardener)

RangersEzequiel Duran of the Texas Rangers hits a three-run home run during the 11th inning of a baseball game against the Chicago White Sox in Chicago Sunday, June 12, 2022. CHICAGO (AP) -- Jonah Heim hit a two-run single in the 12th inning, the Texas Rangers turned a double on a ball hit to the warning lane to end an 8-6 win over the Chicago White Sox on Sunday. Embattled manager Tony La Russa and the White Sox have lost four out of five. It started with right-hander Michael Kopech leaving after 13 pitches with a problem in his right knee and ended with an unusual double play in 12th place. Jose Abreu punched forward and looked at Kolby Allard, then Jake Burger hit a fly on the warning lane on the left. Charlie Culberson caught the ball and then threw out automatic runner Luis Robert, who was trying to catch and finish third. In the top of the inning, Adolis García bested Matt Foster (1-2) and scored on Heim's single. Chicago White Sox pitching coach Ethan Katz, left, talks to relief pitcher Reynaldo Lopez in the dugout during the first inning of a baseball game against the Texas Rangers in Chicago, Sunday, June 12, 2022. Duran hit a three-run homer in front of Jose Ruiz in the 11th, but Rangers gave up their 6-3 lead. Seby Zavala had a sac fly from Joe Barlow (2-1) late in the inning. Danny Mendick tripled as Culberson and midfielder Eli White collided, reducing the deficit to one. White homered and had a sac for the Rangers, who won for the fifth time in 12 games. García added three goals. Andrew Vaughn's two-run single against Dennis Santana put it in seventh place for Chicago after Duran's error. Kopech (2-2, 1.92 ERA) was checked by the coaching staff with a full point and two outs against García. Kopech threw a warm-up pitch before poking his baseball in frustration and walking to the dugout to applaud. Reynaldo López replaced Kopech and knocked out García. López threw two scoreless innings to opener on Friday as the White Sox defeated the Rangers 8-3. Chicago has seven players on the injured list. Left fielder Pollock robbed Marcus Semien with a jumping grab for the first out of an extra base hit. The Kopech injury deals another blow to the White Sox during an eventful homestand. Fans chanted "Fire Tony!" after Chicago squandered a five-run lead in 10 innings on Saturday and Sunday in an 11-9 loss to Rangers. La Russa also came under scrutiny after ordering an unconventional deliberate walk in a loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Thursday. The reigning AL champion White Sox is 27-31. Lopez batted three and allowed one hit in 1 1/3 innings. Johnny Cueto, who was due to start in Detroit on Monday, replaced him. Cueto allowed Zach Reks a leadoff single before White hit his third homer to give Rangers a 2-1 lead. Luis Robert of the Chicago White Sox, right, steals second base while Texas Rangers second baseman Marcus Semien tries to catch the ball during the first inning of a baseball game in Chicago, Sunday, June 12, 2022. Cueto allowed three runs in five innings. Right-hander Jon Gray gave up a run and hit 10 in six innings. Chicago threatened in sixth when Vaughn left and moved up to third with an Abreu single. But Gray hit two to end the inning. Tanner Banks replaced Cueto and went two to start the eighth but held the game in a tie. Burger's single put the White Sox ahead in the first round. The White Sox named DH/OF Yermin Mercedes to make room for Zavala, selected RHP Davis Martin to Triple-A Charlotte, and recalled Banks from Charlotte. Mercedes hit .230 with four homers in Charlotte. He hit .270 with seven homers in 69 major league games in 2020 and 2021. Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Michael Kopech, front left, goes to the dugout with a team coach after hitting Texas in the first inning of a baseball game injured was Rangers in Chicago, Sunday, June 12, 2022. White Sox: Zavala's contract was selected by Triple-A to fill in for C Yasmani Grandal (strained left hamstring). Grandal, who was feeling well on Sunday, will receive treatment over the next few days and avoid the injury list, La Russa said. LHP Aaron Bummer (left lat) went to the 15-day IL retroactive to Thursday. RHP Joe Kelly (left hamstring) said his simulated game on Sunday went well. Rangers: LHP Taylor Hearn (4-4, 5.40 ERA) is scheduled to start Monday's series opener against Houston and RHP Cristian Javier (3-3, 3.22). White Sox: Chicago has yet to name a new starter after Cueto served Sunday. RHP Rony Garcia (0-1, 4.50) starts for Detroit.

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Lightning Rangers Game 6 Live Updates

The Lightning can secure a third straight Stanley Cup finish with a win over the Rangers in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals tonight at the Amalie Arena. If they lose, they have a second chance in Game 7 on Tuesday as they lead the best-of-seven streak 3-2. lightning center... (Author: Gardener)

Stanley CupLightning-fast left winger Ondrej Palat (18), far right, celebrates his winning goal along with center Steven Stamkos (91) and right winger Nikita Kucherov (86) at Madison Square Garden on Thursday. The Lightning can secure a third straight Stanley Cup finish with a win over the Rangers in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals tonight at the Amalie Arena. If they lose, they have a second chance in Game 7 on Tuesday as they lead the best-of-seven streak 3-2. Lightning center Brayden Point will be out for a 10th straight game with a lower body injury sustained during the opening round series against the Maple Leafs. Catch our live updates throughout the game starting at 8:00 p.m. It hasn't happened often in the last three seasons, but every once in a while a team gets a chance to knock the Lightning out of the playoffs. The Maple Leafs had one in Round 1. And the Rangers had their shot in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals, two games in the series and two goals in the game. They failed to finish the game and are now on the verge of being eliminated, while the Lightning need just one win in the next two games to reach the Stanley Cup Finals for the third straight year. Is the series over? The Lightning know how to end a playoff streak because they created their own blueprint and have won 10 in the last three seasons. Rangers' best chance was to knock out the Bolts early while they shook off the rust of an extended layoff and goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy tried to find his rhythm again. New York Rangers defenseman Jacob Trouba (8), left, falls to the ice as Lightning left wing Ondrej Palat (18) attempts to run past during the third period of Thursday's Game 5 at Madison Square Garden. The Lightning turned things around in the second half of Game 2, limiting giveaways, playing better defense and staying out of the box. And while the end results didn't always reflect that, it's been a pretty one-sided streak ever since, especially during the 5v5 game. With their season at stake, will the Lightning get the Rangers' best performance tonight? But they may have gotten it as early as Game 5, when New York played on home ice where they had won eight straight and needed a win to regain control of a streak that appeared to be slipping away from them. More likely, the Lightning will sense the opportunity in front of them -- a chance to advance and fight for a third straight trophy -- and adopt the closer mentality that has propelled them to titles over the past two postseasons. Will the Bolts lock things down defensively and take out the Rangers either tonight in Tampa or Tuesday in New York? They're 8-2 in a row if they lead three games to two. Chances are, we'll see it again. Catch our live updates from 8pm as the Lightning have the first of two chances to edge out Rangers and advance to a third straight Cup final and fourth in eight seasons. Sign up for Lightning Strikes, a weekly newsletter from Bolts Beat author Eduardo A. Never miss the latest from the Bucs, Rays, Lightning, Florida collegiate sports and more. Follow our Tampa Bay Times sports team on Twitter and Facebook.

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Rangers, White Sox, Finish Series

Stats, probable lineups, injury updates and notes for Sunday's matchup between Texas and the Chicago White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field (Author: Gardener)

White SoxThe Texas Rangers end their three-game streak with the Chicago White Sox on Sunday after beating the White Sox 11-9 in 10 innings on Saturday. Here's everything you need to know about today's game. Rangers Prospects of May Eligible to return on June 14th. RHP Jonathan Hernández (Tommy John surgery): He is eligible to return. He was sent to Triple A Round Rock for injury rehab. RHP José Leclerc (Operation Tommy John): Leclerc is eligible to return. He rehabs at Triple A Round Rock. You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter at @PostinsPostcard. Find out more about Inside the Rangers on Facebook and Twitter.

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White Sox Kopech leaves the game after 13 pitches

White Sox right-hander Michael Kopech left Sunday's game against the Rangers with an injury after throwing just 13 pitches in the first inning. (Author: Gardener)

White Sox KopechChicago White Sox right-hander Michael Kopech left Sunday's game against the Texas Rangers with an injury after throwing just 13 pitches in the first inning. Kopech, who is 2-2 with a 1.94 ERA, was checked by the coaching staff with a full counter and two outs against Adolis Garcia. He threw a warm-up pitch before spitting the baseball in frustration and walking to the dugout to applause from the fans. The White Sox did not give an immediate word about the injury. Reynaldo Lopez replaced Kopech and knocked out Garcia. Lopez threw two scoreless innings as the opener on Friday as the White Sox beat the Rangers 8-3. Chicago has seven players on the injury list after left-hander Aaron Bummer was drafted into the IL ahead of Sunday's game. Bummer, who was transferred retroactively to Thursday, has a 3.06 ERA in 20 appearances this season.

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Rangers were eliminated from the playoffs, street fights played a big role

The New York Rangers were eliminated from the Stanley Cup Playoffs on Saturday by the Tampa Bay Lightning, losing 2-1 in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference best-of-7 finals at the Amalie Arena. (Author: Gardener)

The New York RangersTAMPA -- The New York Rangers were eliminated from the Stanley Cup Playoffs by the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday, losing 2-1 in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference best-of-7 finals at the Amalie Arena. TAMPA -- The New York Rangers were eliminated from the Stanley Cup Playoffs by the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday, losing 2-1 in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference best-of-7 finals at the Amalie Arena. The Rangers won Games 1 and 2 against the Lightning, but then lost four straight games for the first time all season. They were second seed in the Metropolitan Division after finishing the regular season with 52 wins and 110 points. New York advanced to the Conference Finals by coming back from a 3-1 deficit against the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round and from a 3-2 deficit against the Carolina Hurricanes in the second round. It was the first time since the second round in 2017 that Rangers were in the playoffs with a best-of-7 series as they lost to the Ottawa Senators in six games. The Rangers were defeated 3-0 in a best-of-5 series against the Hurricanes in the 2020 Stanley Cup Qualifiers. Rangers lost all three away games they played in the Conference Finals. They won Games 1 and 2 at home and went 2-0 up in the series. They led 2-0 away in the second period of Game 3 but held it just 66 seconds before Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov scored a power play goal. The Lightning came back and won Game 3 3-2 and then won Game 4 4-1. Rangers were 8-2 away and 8-2 home in the playoffs. They scored nine goals in their first two games, eight of them in 5-on-5 skating; five in Game 1 and three in Game 2. But Rangers managed just one other 5-on-5 goal of the series. Ryan Lindgren scored a 5v5 goal in the second period of Game 5 to give Rangers a 1-0 lead but they couldn't hold it and lost 3-1. Palat scored a 3-2 win for the Lightning with 41.6 seconds left in the third period of Game 3. He deflected Mikhail Sergachev's shot from the spot to deliver a 3-1 win at 1:50 in the third period of Game 5. His pass in Game 4 propelled Nikita Kucherov to a breakaway goal that gave the Lightning a 2-1 lead at 1:07 of the second period. Palat then set up Steven Stamkos' goal at 4:56 of the third and scored 19:51 to make it 4-1. Palat also had assists on both of Tampa Bay's goals in Game 6. He finished the streak with eight points (four goals, four assists). Mika Zibanejad and Adam Fox each had eight-game point streaks in Game 4. Neither got another point in the streak. Chris Kreider had points ahead of Game 5 in six straight games. He had no point in the last two games and no shot on goal in Game 6. Rangers played 20 games in 40 days and caught up. But the lack of insults suggests that the Rangers may have been gassed by the end of the series.

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Stamkos, lightning win, secure place in the cup final

Tampa Bay captain Steven Stamkos scored twice and the Lightning made a comeback from a 2-0 deficit in the Eastern Conference Finals with their fourth straight win over the New York Rangers on Saturday night. (Author: Gardener)

Tampa Bay-- The Tampa Bay Lightning eliminated the New York Rangers 2-1 in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals Saturday night to advance to their third consecutive Stanley Cup Final. Steven Stamkos scored both goals to beat the Lightning against the Rangers, who saw their surprise and dramatic run in the playoffs end in the Conference Finals. The Lightning are attempting to become the first team to win three goals as champions since the New York Islanders in 1983. The Stanley Cup final between the Lightning and the Colorado Avalanche begins Wednesday in Denver. The Avalanche are seeking their first Stanley Cup since 2001. The Eastern Conference Finals was billed as a battle between Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy and Rangers goalie Igor Shesterkin, and Game 6 was a fitting highlight. Shesterkin made 28 saves, some spectacular, to keep Rangers in the game. Vasilevskiy (20 saves), meanwhile, continued his championship in potential series win games. He now has 13 wins in 24 career potential playoff series clinchers and has conceded just a goal or fewer in 11 of those games. The first third was goalless thanks to Shesterkin. In the second half he looked even more magical with a great save against a Nikita Kucherov chance. Shesterkin made 16 saves before Lightning captain Steven Stamkos wired a long-range shot off the right wing boards past the keeper's stickside. It was the Lightning captain's 40th career playoff goal and eighth of the postseason. The Lightning finished the second half 1-0 with a 23-13 shot advantage. After 2:26 of the third period, Rangers finally earned a power play opportunity. They went into the playoffs with the best conversion rate (31.5%) but only had 3:15 power play in their last two games. The Blitz wiped out that man advantage — but not New York's second. With Stamkos in the box for a hook, Frank Vatrano fired a shot past Vasilevskiy at 1:07 of the third period for his fifth of the playoffs. But Stamkos would respond with his ninth of the playoffs just 21 seconds later. Kucherov found Stamkos, who rushed into the Rangers' net with a pass. He slammed the puck into Shesterkin's glove, but the puck flew into the air and bounced off Stamkos' leg into the net to make it 2-1. Their offense stuttered to just one goal for the third game in a row. The Lightning lost defender Victor Hedman for the final 10:45 of the second period after being hit in the head by Rangers forward Alexis Lafreniere.

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Mishkin's extra shift: Lightning 2, Rangers 1

Radio station Dave Mishkin recaps Tampa Bay's series-winning Game 6 win over the Rangers (Author: Gardener)

MishkinThe Lightning prevailed in Game 6 (and advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals in the process) much like they won the previous three in the series - on defense. The Lightning prevailed in Game 6 (and advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals in the process) much like they won the previous three in the series - on defense. As in games three, four, and five, the Lightning played hard and with urgency, showing great attention to detail, taking time and space from the opponent, managing the puck well, blocking shots, winning 50-50 fights, and protecting the game in front of their net, forcing New York to play most of the game without the puck. As in games three, four, and five, the Lightning played hard and with urgency, showing great attention to detail, taking time and space from the opponent, managing the puck well, blocking shots, winning 50-50 fights, and protecting the game in front of their net, forcing New York to play most of the game without the puck. As Alex Killorn later said, this was possibly their best overall game in the series. As Alex Killorn later said, this was possibly their best overall game in the series. The Lightning held the Rangers on just 21 shots on goal and 45 total attempts. In the first two periods, New York managed just 23 total shot attempts. Rangers produced very few scoring chances in game six. Much of this had to do with how decisively Lightning won the possession battle. The Flash had the puck for most of the night. And unlike the Rangers, they were able to collect a lot of scoring chances. Igor Shesterkin put on a great performance and almost wiped out Tampa Bay's eyes. His first goal came at 10:43 of the second period out of haste. He finished a wrist shot from the right circle and wired the puck into the far post. His second tally came just 21 seconds after Rangers leveled the game with Frank Vatrano's power-play goal. Andrew Copp won a faceoff win in the offensive zone directly against Vatrano, who netted the puck from the slot for the third time at 13:07. Ondrej Palat supplied Nikita Kucherov in the neutral zone while Stamkos sped past Jacob Trouba on the left wing. Kucherov delivered the puck to Stamkos, who sliced ​​down the middle and fired a shot into Shesterkin's glove. Shesterkin rocked the puck - the rebound deflected off Stamkos and bounced into the net. Secured by a gate, the Lightning wrapped things up by the final 6:32 of the rule. They repeatedly intercepted pucks in the neutral zone and worked them deep into the Rangers' end. After the second Stamkos goal, New York only managed two more SOGs down the stretch, both after Shesterkin was drawn for the extra attacker. The Lightning blocked three more New York attempts during the six-on-five. He had a few scoring chances, including Copp's rebound opportunity in the third period when the score was still 1-0. But Vasilevskiy didn't have to lift nearly as much heavy weight as Shesterkin in that game. Lightning Radio Three Stars of the Game (as selected by Phil Esposito):

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Stamkos scores twice, Lightning beats Rangers 2-1 in Game 6

Steven Stamkos scored twice and the two-time defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning is in the Stanley Cup Finals for the third straight season after... (Author: Gardener)

Rangers 2-1With captain Steven Stamkos at the helm, the two-time defending champions defeated the New York Rangers 2-1 in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Saturday night to secure their third consecutive Stanley Cup Finals berth. "It's going to be difficult to get out of the moment and look back and realize what a special group we have here because there are still a few games to play," Stamkos said. "You're still not at the end of our goal, but when you say this group is pretty amazing and pretty special." Stamkos scored two goals and Andrei Vasilevskiy had 20 saves for the Lightning, who won the series 4-2 - won four straight games after losing the first two away – and will face the Colorado Avalanche in the cup final. "It's probably not the best word, but I'm damn impressed with this group," said coach Jon Cooper. "It's impressive what they've done. I'm just deeply impressed by what they do to win a hockey game," he added. I'm impressed." Stamkos brought down the Lightning in the third period just 21 seconds after New York's Frank Vatrano scored on a power play with the Tampa Bay captain in the box. Nikita Kucherov and Ondrej Palat assisted Sieger with 6 1/2 minutes left , with the puck deflecting off Stamkos' knee and into the net after Rangers goalkeeper Igor Shesterkin stopped the first shot. It's easy to say now, but for some reason I wasn't as upset as I used to be in those situations." said Stamkos. We deserved to win the game. The Lightning are the first team to make three straight Cup finals since Edmonton from 1983-85. They are trying to become the first to win three straight championships since the New York Islanders won four straight championships from 1980-83 Rangers, trailing 3-2 for the third straight round, were 5-0 in Eliminati on games this postseason ahead of Saturday night. The only teams to win more elimination games in a single postseason were the 1975 New York Islanders (eight), the 2014 Los Angeles Kings (seven), and the 2003 Minnesota Wild (six). But we played well, we fought hard, we had a chance to win all those games," said Rangers coach Gerard Gallant. "They found a way to get the big goal in the big time." New York lost three of their first four games before winning three straight elimination games to beat the Pittsburgh Penguins in the opening round. It lost the first two on the road in Carolina before rebounding to oust the Hurricanes in seven games and reach the East Finals. It was a different story on Saturday night as the Lightning limited New York's scoring chances while overtaking the Rangers 31-21. He only had seven shots in the opening stages, six in the second and eight in the third. Shesterkin, meanwhile, stopped 29 of 31 shots and made one big save after another to give New York a chance. He gave us a chance to win every night. We didn't stand a chance in a lot of games, but he was outstanding. He's been our best player all year and in this series too," Gallant said. He made some incredible saves to keep them going, but I think I just felt kind of reassuring about the group," Stamkos said. "It was just one of those nights where it just felt like we were going to make it, whether it was the next shift after that, whether I scored or met someone else." NOTES: The Lightning again played without striker Brayden Point, who has missed 10 games since suffering a lower body injury in Tampa Bay's Game 7 win over Toronto in the first round. Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman was eliminated in the second half after apparently being elbowed in the head by New York's Alexis Lafreniere.

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