Step Two: Lightning clobbers Devils once again

by Gary Shelton on April 15, 2018 · 2 comments

in general, Tampa Bay Lightning

Anton Stralman stops a puck before it gets to Vasilevskiy./CARMEN MANDATO

Anton Stralman stops a puck before it gets to Vasilevskiy./CARMEN MANDATO

Sunday, 3 a.m.

For most of the year, it was among the cities where the doubts about this Tampa Bay Lighting team was born.

Vasilevskiy withstood a strong third period by the Devils./CARMEN MANDATO

Vasilevskiy withstood a strong third period by the Devils./CARMEN MANDATO

In other places, for instance, they might have thought of the Bolts as skilled, as speedy, as sizzling. But in New Jersey, well, after three straight wins in the regular season, the Bolts didn't look so tough. Three times, New Jersey beat them, each by a single goal, and you got the feeling that the Devils had their number.

No more. These days, the Lightning's number is five ... as in the goals per game they have scored.

The Bolts took a 2-0 lead on New Jersey Saturday afternoon, taking a 5-1 lead and holding on for a 5-3 victory.

Vasilevskiy stopped 41 shots to beat the Devils./CARMEN MANDATO

Vasilevskiy stopped 41 shots to beat the Devils./CARMEN MANDATO

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Kucherov celebrates his second-period goal./CARMEN MANDATO

Kucherov celebrates his second-period goal./CARMEN MANDATO

Tampa Bay now leads the series 2-0, a number that is tough to beat. All-time, teams going up 2-0 are .236-30, a winning percentage of .887.

"What was their goal?" Lightning Jon Cooper said. "Probably to get a split. Our goal was to take them both. We’ve got to go up there, dig our heels in

Killorn scored two goals in the Bolts' win./CARMEN MANDATO

Killorn scored two goals in the Bolts' win./CARMEN MANDATO

and get one. We’d love to get them both. That’s going to be our plan.

"There are two games to be played. But Game Three is the focus. This group in there has been through the wars. They’ve been up in a series, they’ve been down. Just because you won the first two at home., that’s not a paved path to say we’re going to win Game Three.  The best we played tonight? We’re going to have to be 5 percent better  to win on the road. If you want to keep advancing, you’re going to have to win on the road."

The Bolts survived a bit of pushback in the game, as the Devils scored the

Tyler Johnson scored his second goal in two games./CARMEN MANDATO

Tyler Johnson scored his second goal in two games./CARMEN MANDATO

final two goals. But, as Cooper put it, the Bolts did a lot of good things to go ahead 5-1.

"People have to understand," Cooper said. "What did New Jersey have? 97 points? That’s a lot of points. You don’t fluke your way to 97 points. They're a playoff team, and they’ve got a good team. There is a reason they finished ahead of eight other teams in the conference. They’re good. and we're pretty darn good ourselves. The big thing to me is who won the game."

The Bolts scored three goals in a three-minute span in the second period to separate themselves from the Devils. Brayden Point score in the first period,

Stralman moves up the ice for Tampa Bay./CARMEN MANDATO

Stralman moves up the ice for Tampa Bay./CARMEN MANDATO

and Alex Killorn, Tyler Johnson and Nikita Kucherov scored in the team's flurry.

Killorn later scored his second goal for the 5-1 lead.

The Bolts got a break when Kucherov tried to pass across the crease to Steven Stamkos, and the puck went off the skate of Sami Vatanen into the goal for a 4-1 lead.

"You earn your breaks," Cooper said. "Naturally that is a fortunate bounce, but they caused that. (Kucherov and Stamkos) caused the puck to be thrown in front. They caused (the Devils) to be put in a tough spot. Does that happen a lot? No, but they earned it. It was fortunate for us it went in."

Point scored the first goal for the Bolts./CARMEN MANDATO

Point scored the first goal for the Bolts./CARMEN MANDATO

Alas, not the Devils. There was a scrum in the third period in front of the Lightning net, but a camera never had a clear shot of the puck in the net.

Vatanen scored with 26 seconds left in the second period, and Blake Coleman scored in the third to bring the Devils to within two goals.

“I think you just have to do the exact same stuff as we’ve been doing," Johnson said. "You approach every game at a time and we’re just focused on the next one right now, we’re not focused on what we did the last two games it’s what we’re going to do in the next one. As long as we play our game and

Palat celebrates Tyler Johnson's goal./CARMEN MANDATO

Palat celebrates Tyler Johnson's goal./CARMEN MANDATO

as long as we do the things we need to do we’re going to be good.”

Killorn seems to play better in the post-season.

“You play all season for this, playoff hockey is great," Killorn said. "There are a few more cameras around, a couple more people watching, but I think we like that pressure. We like having the eyes on us.”

The eyes will be back on the Bolts on Monday, when the team travels to New Jersey for its first road game of the series. The game time is 7:30 p.m.

Paquettte, Noesen scrap in the Bolts' victory./CARMEN MANDATO

Paquettte, Noesen scrap in the Bolts' victory./CARMEN MANDATO

 

 

 

 

 

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Bill MYERS April 15, 2018 at 8:07 am

Two down 14 to go! The last period was a bit of a nail biter! If the camera had given the Devils that goal ….it was going to be a whole different game. I hope the Devils do not start off the intensity of play the showed in that final period! The Lightning had better be prepared for some desperate hockey in New Jersey! GO BOLTS!

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Gary Shelton April 15, 2018 at 11:33 am

The last period wasn’t good. But I like this team’s chances of a split on the road.

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