TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — The New York Rangers have forced another Game 7 in the Stanley Cup playoffs by improving to 4-0 when facing elimination this year.

Derick Brassard recorded a hat trick and had two assists as the Rangers thumped the Lightning 7-3 at Tampa to stretch the Eastern Conference finals to the limit. Brassard put the Blueshirts ahead to stay 3:36 into the game before tallying twice in the Rangers' five-goal assault in the third period.

It was the Rangers' first playoff hat trick since Michael Nylander had three against the Atlanta Thrashers more than eight years ago.

Rick Nash and J.T. Miller each had a goal and three assists to back Henrik Lundqvist, who finished with 36 saves. Miller, James Sheppard and Brassard scored during a 4:12 span to put New York in front 5-1 less than 7 ½ minutes into the final period.

Nikita Kucherov had two goals for the Lightning, who were trying to wrap up their second Stanley Cup finals appearance.

Game 7 in Friday at Madison Square Garden.

In Other NHL News:

— The St. Louis Blues and head coach Ken Hitchcock have agreed to a one-year contract. The decision comes a month after the Blues were eliminated in the Western Conference quarterfinals following a successful run to the Central Division title. Hitchcock has led the Blues to the playoffs in each of his four seasons with the team, but the Blues have won just one playoff round in that span.

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