Rangers rout Lightning to force Game 7 in Eastern Conference Final, Blues re-sign Ken Hitchcock plus updates on the Ducks, Blackhawks and more. 

 

Rangers center Derick Brassard scores one of his three goals against the Lightning.

Rangers center Derick Brassard scores one of his three goals in Game Seven against the Lightning.

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS/THE TAMPA TRIBUNE: The New York Rangers erupted for five goals in the third period to rout the Tampa Bay Lightning 7-3 in Game Six of their Eastern Conference Final, forcing a seventh and deciding game back at Madison Square Garden on Friday. Derick Brassard had a five-point performance (including a hat trick), Rick Nash and J.T Miller each had four-point games while Henrik Lundqvist made 36 saves for the win. Nikita Kucherov (two goals) and Ryan Callahan tallied for the Lightning, while goalie Ben Bishop was pulled in the third after give up five goals on 26 shots.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Rangers jumped to an early 2-0 lead and the Lightning got one back late in the first period. In the second, it was pretty much all Lightning, and if not for Lundqvist the outcome of this game would’ve been very different. That seemed to inspire the Rangers in the third, as they dominated the Bolts. Be it nerves, inexperience or taking their opponent too lightly, the Lightning failed to seal the deal at home. They now face the daunting task of beating an inspired Rangers club who (since 2012) are 15-3 in elimination games, 6-1 in Game Seven situations and haven’t lost an elimination game on home ice since 2007. 

ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: For the first time since 2007, the Anaheim Ducks are one game away from advancing to the Stanley Cup Final, but they realize they face a tough challenge against the Blackhawks in Chicago tonight for Game Six of the Western Conference Final.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Facing elimination in Game Six of the Western Conference Final, the Blackhawks hope to rely on their past experience plus their anger from Game Five to force Game 7 back in Anaheim.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This series has lived up to every expectation, with more twists and turns than a roller coaster. Tonight’s game should be a dandy.

NHL.COM: The St. Louis Blues yesterday announced the re-signing of head coach Ken Hitchcock to a one-year contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hitchcock’s return is generating speculation of possible roster changes for the Blues this summer. You can read about those in the Rumors section.

DETROIT FREE PRESS: Red Wings GM Ken Holland intends to meet with Grand Rapids Griffins coach Jeff Blashill later this week. Blashill is the leading – and so far, the only – candidate for the Wings’ head-coach position.

GRAND FOLKS HERALD: Philadelphia Flyers new head coach Dave Hakstol must pay the University of North Dakota a $100,000 fee for jumping to the NHL before his contract with the school expired on June 30, 2015.

THE WASHINGTON POST: Capitals unrestricted free agent winger Joel Ward hopes to re-sign with the club.

NBC SPORTS: The Nashville Predators have had discussion with pending UFA defenseman Anton Volchenkov about a new contract.

THE GLOBE AND MAIL: Seattle arena investor Chris Hansen said his group has not yet received a proposal for a hockey franchise to be the initial occupant.