Lightning sluggish in series opening loss

by Gary Shelton on August 24, 2020

in general

Hedman scored two late goals./CHUCK MULLER

Monday, 4 a.m.

You might have thought they would itching to take the ice. You might have thought they would be ready to play before the warm-ups.

The Tampa Bay Lightning were not.

You might have thought that being into the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs would get the juices flowing. You might have thought that facing the rival Boston Bruins would light a fire.

It did not.

The Lightning, old enough to know better, got off to a sluggish start Sunday night and paid for it, losing a 3-2 game to the Bruins. After the Bruins took a 3-0 lead, Victor Hedman of Tampa Bay scored twice in the last 8:50 of the game.

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What's the old line: To get off to a good start in a series, a team needs to get off to a good start in a game. The Lightning didn't accomplish that, either.

"I thought it was pretty sloppy the way we started," said forward Tyler Johnson. "We were a lot sloppier than we usually are. I don't think we had our feet into it. I don't think we were competing hard enough.

"You can't dip your toes into the water and see how it is. You've got to dive right in."

The Bolts gave up goals in each of the three periods and trailed 3-0 midway through the third.

“We were disappointed with the way we came out in the first," Hedman said. "You can say it’s been a couple days since we played, but at the same time, we expect more out of ourselves. We knew that wasn’t good enough in the first. "

The Bolts can take solace that, in a best-of-seven series, nothing is decided in the first game. Go back to the 2018 playoffs, when the Bolts lost a 6-2 game to Boston in the second round of the playoffs. That Lightning team then won four straight to advance.

How about 2016? The Lightning lost first-road games to Detroit and the New York Islanders, but came back to win both series.

Then there was 2004, when the Lighting won the Stanley Cup. That year, they lost the first game of the championship series to Calgary 4-1 but won in seven games.

“(The start) was extremely disappointing, to be honest," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "There was a period against Columbus in the last game that was dreadful. Our first period tonight was right along those lines."

"We didn’t lose that game in the first period. We didn’t help ourselves. You can’t start games the way we did. It put us on our heels and shortened the game."

For the Bruins, goalie Jaroslav Halak was a highlight. Halak was considered a suspect player after taking over from regular Tuuka Rask, but he's won four straight now, and he stopped 35 shots against the Lightning.

The teams play again on Tuesday at 7 p.m.

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