Bolts bounce back, again, to even series

by Gary Shelton on May 5, 2022

in general

Hedman had a four-point game./TIM WIRT

Thursday, 4 a.m.

They are at their best when they are cut, when they are bleeding, when they are against the ropes.

Say this for the Tampa Bay Lightning.

They've got a heck of a counter-punch.

The Lightning is back in their NHL playoff series against the Toronto Maple Leafs. After being shellacked 5-0 in the first game of the series, the Lightning responded with a 5-3 victory Wednesday night.

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It was the 15th time in the last two-plus playoff seasons the Bolts have been beaten, and the 15th time they have come back -- slightly ticked off -- to win the next game. Opponents can knock them down; they haven't knocked them out lately.

The Bolts took a 5-1 lead until the last 12 minutes, when Toronto scored a pair of goals. The Leafs had a late power play that turned into a six-on-four when they pulled their goalie, but the Bolts held on.

“What does it take to bounce back like that?" Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "It takes character in your room. They’re aware of the situations. You have to tip your hat those guys. Lose a playoff game and go in the next night and say “were’ not losing this one.' You’ve got a really good chance of winning the cup if you’re not losing two in a row.

“You have to make it personal. What you have to do is create an anger inside and a want. You either want to win or want not to lose. That was the mindset we had."

In the first game, the Bolts were flummoxed by power play failure early. In Game Two, they scored three power play goals.

Victor Hedman had four points and Nikita Kucherov had three for Tampa Bay. Each scored a goal. So did Corey Perry, Brandon Hagel and Brayden Point.

“It’s going back to our best players being your best players," Cooper said of Hedman. "He quarterbacks our power play back here. On that second goal, how about the pass he makes to Perry. He defended, he penalty killed. He had, what, a four point night? That’s the catalyst. "

For a visiting team in the plaoffs, the initial goal is to get at least a split on enemy ice. The Bolts did that. It is now a best-of-five series with three games scheduled for Tampa.

Toronto's vaunted power play will have to be better. The Leafs are just one-for-10 so far in the series.

Bolts' goaltender Andre Vasilevskiy stopped 31 of 34 shots for the win.

The Bolts and Leafs play at Amalie Arena at 7:30 p.m. on Friday in Game Three.

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