Bolts survive wild second period to win again

by Gary Shelton on June 6, 2021

in general

Stamkos scored twice for Lightning./CARMEN MANDATO

Sunday, 4 a.m.

At the time, the contest had turned into chaos.

There were fireballs falling from the sky. The earth had opened up. It felt as if there were fireworks and laser beams and dragons in the sky.

And then Steven Stamkos called for calm.

The Lightning trailed by two goals, and at the moment, it was easy to envision the Carolina Hurricanes tying their playoff series and heading home. Things were falling apart for the Lightning in front of their home crowd.

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It was a time for a team to gather itself, which led to Stamkos' play of the day. Considering he had two goals and an assist, that's saying something.

"Stammer gathered us together," said rookie Ross Colton. "He said 'let's take a deep breath and get back to playing our game.' It's pretty awesome for a young player. You look one way, and you've got Stammer and Kuch (Nikita Kucherov). You look the other and you've got Hedy (Victor Hedman) and Ryan McDonagh.

The calm was important in the frenzy of the second period where the teams scored eight goals combined. The Bolts went from up a goal, to down two, to up one in their 6-4 victory. They are now one game from closing out the Hurricanes.

Bolts' coach Jon Cooper had compared the playoffs to a roller coaster earlier. This one left him scrambling for the biggest one he could think of. He came up with The Hulk.

"That was chaotic," Cooper said. "It’s a  damn circus out there. There are no refunds after that . Take your coach's hat off, and it was a hell of an entertaining second period."

The key for the Bolts was to not get shaken after the Hurricanes scored two goals. in 39 seconds, then two more in 2:05. Both Stamkos and Kucherov had two goals apiece.

"It was probably the craziest playoff period you're going to see the rest of the way," Stamkos said. "It was certainly exciting for the fans. I give our guys credit. We go down two goals. I didn’t think we were playing our game."

"We’ve been in multiple different situations throughout the runs this corps has been here for. We’ve seen it all. Nothing is going to surprise this group. We started winning some more battles. We didn’t get frustrated."

Part of the reason was Kucherov, who continues to make fans forget he missed the entire regular season.

“To be honest, he might have taken the game over," Cooper said. "There was point in the second period. We had clearly lost control a little bit and he been hit in a tough manner. He channeled all his energy the right way. There was a five-on-five shift, and he was just a beast out there.  Then we had our power play opportunities and he was making plays all over the place. I thought he might have been the best player on the ice tonight. When Kuch is doing  some of the stuff he was doing tonight, he’s borderline unstoppable."

Once, it seemed the Lightning played a lot of high-scoring games. This was rare for them lately.

“I think there was a time we were the greatest show on ice a few years ago," Cooper said. "A lot of times, those ended up with disappointing playoff outs. This team has this ability to win different ways. We do have a group that can do it that way, but it’s not ideal. We have this belief that it's what you keep out of your net, not what you put in the other net."

The Hurricanes would have to win three straight games to pull out the series.

The series shifts back to Raleigh and the PNC Arena for Game 5 on Tuesday. The puck drop is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.

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