Bolts blasted in Game 2 of Finals

by Gary Shelton on June 19, 2022

in general

Cooper stunned by team's collapse./TIM WIRT

Sunday, 4 a.m.

They dug themselves a hole in the Rangers series, too. This one seems deeper.

They overcame a mountain in the Toronto series, too. This one seems higher.

The Tampa Bay Lightning are in trouble. Again. This time, it might be too much to overcome. On Saturday night, the Avs were better than the Rangers, better than the Panthers, better than the Maple Leafs. And, yes, better than the Lightning.

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Vasilevskiy gave up seven goals./TIM WIRT

The Lightning, two-time defending Stanley Cup champions, haven't faced a team as explosive, as dynamic as the Colorado Avalanche. And now the Bolts must beat them in four of five game to win another title.

The Avs dominated the Lightning from the outset Saturday night, winning a 7-0 game that could have been worse. The Lightning were slower, less dangerous, less skilled than Colorado.

The Avs played as if they could close out the Bolts in two games.Even at even strength, it appeared the Bolts were on a penalty kill.

"They're playing at an elite level and we're not," said Lightning coach Jon Cooper. "Give them credit. There are two good teams. They’re just playing at a much higher level than we are right now. I think it was evident watching that game. We have to elevate our play."

Valeri Nichushkin and Cale Makar each scored twice for Colorado. It was 1-0 three minutes into the game, 3-0 after one period and 5-0 after two.

Tampa Bay, meanwhile, had just 16 shots for the game.

Cooper was asked why he didn't pull goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy at the start of the third period.

"This is the playoffs," Cooper said. "We’re here to win hockey games. Vasy gives us the best chance to win hockey games. He’s our guy. He’s going to be there in a couple of nights. He’s the best goalie in the world. We win together, we lose together. Even if I did (pull him), I don’t think he would have come out. That’s what a competitor he is. That’s why he’s the best."

The Bolts trailed New York 2-0 in their series. Different opponent, Cooper said. Different circumstance.

"We’ve written one story," Cooper said. "Now we have to write another. We’ve been able to circle the wagon and respond. I’m not questioning our team. They're ballers in there."

Still, it's a chore to expect the Lightning to get back into the series from here.

"It’s certainly the fastest team we’ve played," said Steven Stamkos. "We’ve got to find a way to slow them down. That’s part of our execution, putting ducks in areas where we can neutralize their speed. Not turning the puck over, not giving them freebies like I thought we did tonight. We’ll have to find a way to do better.

“Let’s man up and turn the page. We’re in this position Let’s go home and see what happens next game. That’s all we can do."

The Bolts try to win a game Monday night at Amalie Arena at 8 p.m.


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