Lightning or Rangers: Who has the edge to reach Stanley Cup? (0:39)

Barry Melrose picks the Lightning to eliminate the Rangers after the game. :39

7:00 AM ET

The New York Rangers return to Madison Square Garden for Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals on Thursday after the Tampa Bay Lightning evened the series in Florida.

There are three teams left here. You want their best. You would like their best. The Rangers want to show they can beat the best. We think we're an up and coming team. We're here. We would like to play these games.

The Rangers have a home winning streak of eight games and the Lightning have a home winning streak of six games.

The breakdown of Game 5 is here.

Key non-goalie for each team

Adam Fox is a Ranger. In the fourth game of the playoffs, the Rangers defense had its worst performance. He didn't register a shot attempt in 23:44 of ice time, while he was a minus 3. This was the only postseason game in which Fox failed to register a shot, and just the third game in which he didn't tally a point.

The good news is that the Rangers' young blueliner has excelled at home, leading them with 13 points in nine home games. If their forward group is impacted by injuries, Fox can provide more offensive help. The Rangers went 1-for-2 on the power play in Game 4, but only 1:45 with the man advantage, when Fox is so effective as a quarterback.

Nikita Kucherov is a lightning rod. Steven Stamkos told me that the Lightning know when Kucherov is on and they set the tone when he is on. The most important player in the series is the former Hart trophy winner. He was on the ice for eight of the Bolts' last nine goals. The goals he has scored have been huge, sparking the rally from being down 2-0 in Game 3 and adding a crucial second goal in Game 4 on a break. The Game 3 winner could be the result of his pass to Ondrej Palat.

The Rangers have to find a way to slow down Kucherov.

Goalie confidence rating

The Rangers are 8. Despite the best efforts of Shesterkin, this series is still 2-2. He has been on the positive side of goals saved above expected in every game since Game 6 of the series against the PittsburghPenguins, and remains the core of this playoffs run.

He has played a lot of hockey in the playoffs, with two seven-game series, a game in which he faced 83 shots and a recent one in which he faced 52 The grind is catching up with him, and hopefully his Game 4 performance isn't the first sign. He's on an eight game winning streak with a.948 save percentage. And with two assists.

There was a lightning strike. The Big Cat had his worst game of the playoffs in the first game and was negative on goals saved in the second game. Jon Cooper thinks that Vasilevskiy was more affected by the nine-day break than the skaters. He played well at home. It's hard not to agree that Vasilevskiy got his mojo back.

The Rangers average more goals at home than they do on the road. The "mojo test" will be the fifth game.

Andrei Vasilevskiy appears to have gotten his "mojo back," according to Lightning coach Jon Cooper. AP Photo/Chris O'Meara

Path to victory

The path begins with good injury news on Ryan Strome and the engine for the Kid Line. Strome was unable to go before Game 4. Strome is a game-time decision for Game 5 because of his injury. Since the first period of Game 2, the team has only scored one even strength goal. lineup scrambling forGerard Gallant if either or both can't go

The Stanley Cup Final will be broadcasted on ABC, as well as the first and second round of games.

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The next step for the Rangers is to possess the puck, come at opponents in waves, and earn time for their power play. They've won every home game since they lost in triple- OT to the Pens.

It's the best of three. Two were won at home. Two people were lost on the road. That is the way a series is supposed to be. Chris said that it would be possible to hold serve.

There was a lot of chatter about a "switch being flipped" midway through the second game of the series. They simplified their game and played with flair only when they had earned the zone time to do so. They went from 28 giveaways in the first game to 22 in the second and 13 in the third and fourth games.

They need to limit the Rangers' counterpunching rush chances, limit their power-play time, and hopefully get the new checking line of Brandon Hagel and Alex Killorn out of the game.

Final score prediction: Rangers 3-2

The Rangers are often grotesque on the road in the Stanley Cup playoffs. They have pulled this act for two rounds and eight wins at home.

There are injuries that are worrying. If the Rangers get to play their game, the fatigue is gone. They're going to look like they're skating in quicksand if they're behind after two minutes. The narrative is that the Lightning have adjusted and taken control of the series. I've seen the Rangers rewrite a lot of stories in the playoffs to think they won't do it again.