Lightning get up off the floor against Bruins

by Gary Shelton on May 1, 2018 · 2 comments

in general, Tampa Bay Lightning

Brayden Point bounced back with a goal and three assists./CARMEN MANDATO

Brayden Point bounced back with a goal and three assists./CARMEN MANDATO

Tuesday, 4 a.m.

It still isn't the perfect situation. The numbers are not stacked in their favor. The series is tied at 1-1, but that gives an edge beyond the game score to the visitors.

Still, the Tampa Bay Lightning showed a little push-back on Monday night.

And, yes, their pulse is still beating.

The Lightning tied their playoff series with the Boston Bruins Monday night, winning 4-2 to square things

Callahan excelled in the penalty kill./CARMEN MANDATO

Callahan excelled in the penalty kill./CARMEN MANDATO

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Cirellia crashes the net and Tuukka Rask./CARMEN MANDATO

Cirelli crashes the net and Tuukka Rask./CARMEN MANDATO

going into Boston. The Bolts need a split on the Bruins' home ice to keep this series tight.

Consider the licking that the Bruins handed the Bolts in a 6-2 walloping in Game One. They embarrassed Point. They left Johnson looking for Brad Marchand. They made the series look lopsided. Their best players were better than the Lightning's best players.

It isn't the first time the Bolts took the first punch in a series. In the 2016 playoffs, it also won its first series in five games, then fell to the Islanders in the

Miller battles with a much-larger Chara/CARMEN MANDATO

Miller battles with a much-larger Chara/CARMEN MANDATO

first game. But the Lightning won that series in five games.

A year earlier, the Bolts lost to Detroit and the Rangers in the opening game, but came back to win. There were doubts then, too. But a good hockey team can overcome those.

"It’s not ideal," Cooper said. "But we’ve been through that before. We’ve got confidence. We know it’s a must win, but we’ve been there before."

The Bolts were led by forward Brayden Point, who had a terrible opening night against Boston. He was minus-five in the Bolts' loss, but came back strong on Monday night with  a goal (empty netter) and three assists.

"I think our line wasn't happy, obviously, with how we played, giving up a lot of goals (in Game 1)," Point said. "(Monday night) we answered back. I think we skated a lot harder. (The) pucks bounced our way."

Tyler Johnson raises his arms after scoring./CARMEN MANDATO

Tyler Johnson raises his arms after scoring./CARMEN MANDATO

"A challenge is a challenge," said Cooper. "They rose to the occasion."

For the Bolts, Yanni Gourde scored, and Tyler Johnson, and Ondrej Palat in the rebound game.

Cooper said he never considered a breakup on the line.

"I honestly didn’t," he said. "I"ve been asked that question a lot. Pointer’s line was a minus five, but  we didn’t have him as the cause of a scoring chance. We watched him check the best lines in the league all season. "There was no reason to panic and say they couldn’t do it. They were outstanding tonight. He clearly wasn’t minus five tonight."

For the record, Point was plus-two.

"You’ve watched him play," Cooper said. "He’s a hockey player. He competes hard. If there was any talk of pulling him off that line, those three guys would

Vasilevskiy kept the Bruins at bay./CARMEN MANDATO

Vasilevskiy kept the Bruins at bay./CARMEN MANDATO

have marched into my office and asked 'what are you doing.' That being said, Boston has a great line. It’s a challenge.They got better in game one and we got better of them in game two."

The game was tight again, however. Gourde gave the Bolts a 1-0 lead, but Charlie McAvoy tied things with 1:30 to play in the first period. Tampa Bay took a 3-1 lead on goals by Johnson and Palat, but Torey Krug scored to slice the lead to 3-2. Point's empty-netter provided the final margin.

"I think not just our physicality but our intensity was higher and I think that's what we need to bring every night," Gourde said. "We have to get out there and bring a higher energy level and I think that's what we brought tonight."

Killorn battles for position./CARMEN MANDATO

Killorn battles for position./CARMEN MANDATO

The Bolts penalty kill was huge, including finishing off a 5-on-3 in the first period.

"You need a goalie to be your best penalty killer, but Ryan (Callahan) was right there with him," Cooper said. "Just his sacrifice. That’s a tough job to have to be the guy who has to go out here and do that. Who knows how it goes if they score on that. Once that we got through that, we were a confident group."

Said Callahan: "It's pride to go out there and get picked as a guy to go out there and kill that and the other two D men feel the same way. To try to lift the team up and kill that off, like you said it's tough with that long of a 5-on-3, but luckily it was a combined effort to get that killed and gave us a little bit of momentum there."

The Bolts travel to Boston for a game Wednesday night at 7 p.m. The Bruins were 28-8-5 at home this year, trailing only the Lightning and Toronto for wins in the Atlantic Division.

Gourde roughed up by Bruins./CARMEN MANDATO

Gourde roughed up by Bruins./CARMEN MANDATO

 

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Larry Beller May 1, 2018 at 1:16 pm

That’s the most physical I’ve seen the Lightning play. They are going to need that in Boston. They are also going to need the top line to step up. The Lightning have good depth in players who can score but the stars have to be the stars eventually.

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Gary Shelton May 1, 2018 at 10:42 pm

I agree. I agree. And futhermore, I agree. Game three is going to be their biggest game of the year.

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