TAMPA, Fla. (AP) Henrik Lundqvist seems baffled.
The New York Rangers allowed 12 goals in losing their last two playoff games, and one of the NHL's top goalies is at a loss to explain why.
If Lundqvist and his teammates can't find answers in a hurry, their chances of overcoming a 2-1 deficit in the best-of-7 Eastern Conference finals don't appear good.
''It's really challenging for me, the way they move the puck and find open ice for the shot, the way they get scoring chances from right in front. They're good, but I need to be more consistent with my game plan,'' Lundqvist said Wednesday night after a 6-5 overtime loss in Game 3.
Game 4 is Friday night, with the Lightning looking to move a step closer to a spot in the Stanley Cup and the Rangers hoping even the series heading back to New York for Game 5 on Sunday.
''Sometimes as a team, we can be a little bit better, but also I have to be better,'' Lundqvist said. ''We're not going to win if I give up six goals.''
And the Rangers realize they have to help their goalie.
The speedy Lightning are only halfway to the four wins necessary to advance, however the way they've forged their series edge after dropping Game 1 2-1 on the road has been impressive.
The Rangers have a fast team, too, yet they've still had difficulty keeping up with Tampa Bay's Triplets, the high-scoring line featuring Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat and Nikita Kucherov.
Johnson scored his NHL playoff-leading 12th goal, Palate scored twice and Kucherov rammed the Game 3 winner past Lundqvist 3:33 into overtime.
''We found a way, and that's what the playoffs are all about - finding a way,'' Lightning captain Steven Stamkos said. ''It wasn't pretty at times, but you get the win and that's all that matters.''
Both team squandered two-goal leads Wednesday night. Tampa Bay went ahead again with under 6 minutes left in regulation, only to see the Rangers counter with under 2 minutes remaining.
Lundqvist said it's been tough to keep track of the puck with the Lightning seemingly able to do anything they want the past two games.
And while the Rangers say they need to do a better job on defense in front of the goaltender, both teams agree it won't be easy to slow the pace of play.
''I think both teams want to play fast. I think that's been our identity all season long,'' Stamkos said.
''How do you slow a game down between two really fast teams?'' Lightning coach Jon Cooper offered. ''I think it's just two hockey teams trying to win a game. If it's 6-5 or 2-1, you're still trying to win a game.''
Nevertheless, it's difficult to imagine the Rangers prevailing without finding a way to get back to playing low-scoring games.
Nine of the 15 games they've played this postseason have been decided by a score of 2-1, with New York winning seven of those games.
Still, coach Alain Vigneault rejected the notion that his team has to prevent the Lightning from setting the tempo.
''I don't think either team can dictate the pace of the game,'' Vigneault said Thursday, noting the Rangers did score five goals on Tampa Bay's Ben Bishop in Game 3.
''It was a good hockey game,'' the coach added.
Tampa Bay won Game 2 on the road, converting three of six power-play opportunities. Wednesday night, they scored at least five goals on Lundqvist for the fourth time in six meetings between the teams this season (including three regular season games).
Rangers center Derek Stepan said a lack of discipline, leading to penalties, undermined New York in Game 2. He called Game 3 ''just one of those games'' where each team was able to take advantage of mistakes by the other and put the puck in the net.
Even though the Lightning won, they weren't entirely comfortable with it turning into a run-and-gun game.
''We think we definitely have the talent to'' play that way,'' center Alex Killorn said. ''But I think prefer not to trade chances because you never know what could happen. I think if we played a more structured game defensively, that would be to our advantage.''
The Rangers aim to play better defense, too, in hopes of giving Lundqvist a chance.
''You have to believe you can make a difference,'' the goalie said. ''I have to play better. I'll do whatever I can.''
New York is counting on it.
''Hank is very accountable, very demanding of himself,'' Vigneault said. ''He's going to do what any good goaltender does. He's going to put (Wednesday's) game behind him and move on to (Friday night).''