Bolts lose second straight, trail 2-0 in series

by Gary Shelton on June 4, 2022

in general

Paul's goal made it close./TIM WIRT

Saturday;, 4 a.m.

It has been a long time since they were this close to the edge. It has been an eternity since they have been in such an uncomfortable position.

The Tampa Bay Lighting is in trouble.

The Bolts went down 2-0 in their best-of-seven Eastern Conference Finals series against the New York Rangers, suffering a 3-2 defeat that left them in a pronounced hole. The Bolts now must win four of five games to advance to their third straight Stanley Cup championship.

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Kucherov had a goal and an assist./TIM WIRT

It was the first time in 19 games that the Bolts failed to respond to a playoff loss with a victory. And it left them two games behind in the series, a position they haven't been in during their last 10 playoff series.

“You want me to throw out cliche after cliche?" asked Lightning coach Jon Cooper. "I can do it. At some point you might lose two in a row. That we haven’t is remarkable. Most streaks do come to and end, And this one came to an end tonight. Did it knock us out of the playoffs? It did not. Do we have a hill to climb? No question. I don’t think l’m being Captain Obvious saying that. But we have better in us."

The Bolts took a 1-0 lead on a goal by Nikita Kucherov, but the Rangers dictated the pace of the game afterward and took a 3-1 lead early in the third period.

The Bolts played better in the closing moments, but it remains a concern that several players talked about the team's lack of urgency. One round from the Stanley Cup finals, how can a team not play urgently?

“We just turned the puck over too much," Cooper said. "That was it. If you’re not going to manage the puck against good hockey teams, you’re just playing with fire. It was egregious what was happening -- especially five minutes into the first period all the way to halfway through the second. "

Nick Paul scored with 2:04 left to make it a one-goal game. The Bolts couldn't equalize, however.

"It’s the hardest trophy to win," Steven Stamkos said. “You’re going to come across adverse moments. This is certainly one of them. But you have to look at the team we’re playing and how they got here. They were down two zip last series, 3-1 in the first round. Some of us have been in those situations before and food a way to win"

For the Bolts, Sunday afternoon's game (3 p.m. at Amalie Arena) is an important one. Lose that one, and the Rangers would have four chances to win one more.

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