Bolts lose in overtime in Game 3

by Gary Shelton on June 4, 2021

in general

Killorn tied the game for Tampa Bay./CHUCK MULLER

Friday, 4 a.m.

Once again, you expected a stroll through the flowers, didn't you?

You saw your Tampa Bay Lighting win twice on the road, again. And you fooled yourself into thinking it as going to be easy. You thought that the opposing team would roll over and die once the series turned to Amalie Arena.

But these are the Stanley Cup playoffs. What's ever easy?

The Carolina Hurricanes got back into their second-round series Thursday night, beating the Bolts 3-2 in overtime on a power play goal that bounced off the leg of Jordan Staal.

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"The playoffs are a big damn roller coaster," said Lightning coach Jon Cooper. "You can’t get too excited when your high, you can’t get too low when you’re low. You just have to trust your process and the guys are doing that. I expect they’ll do it again."

For the second straight series, the Lightning missed a chance to go up 3-0 with a home ice loss. They did make a bit of a comeback from a 2-0 deficit, but despite 37 shots on Petr Mrazek, they were unable to score again.

“It’s a seven-game series," Cooper said. "You want to see growth in your team. We played well . Obviously, we didn’t win. A lot of good things happened. We had our chances. We can’t complain. Can’t sit here and say our power play didn’t come up big. It scored two big goals for us. They just got the last one. It’s what makes the best-of-seven series fun"

There will be sure to be some noise about the Bolts' final penalty, called when Nikita Kucherov quickly grabbed a stick deep in the offensive zone. There is one school of thought that such small penalties shouldn't be called in the playoffs.

"When you get up in the morning and you look at the box score and under penalties, whatever is listed there is a penalty," Cooper said. "It’s whatever they call on the ice. You can disagree with it or agree with them, whatever you like. In the record books, these penalties are going to be called penalties.

"The playoffs are a different beast, but I don’t think it should change just because the game gets to overtime. If it’s a penalty, it’s a penalty. The big thing was it actually a penalty? You want consistency from the refs. I have no complaints."

To be fair, the Lightning was on a power play as the third period ended and as overtime began.

 “We had our chance," Brayden Point said  "We didn’t score on ours. They had there. They’ capitalized. That's what it came down to."

The Bolts' goals came from Point and Alex Killorn.

The Bolts now will lean on the statistic of not having lost two games in a row in the post-season the last two years. That, and the fact they had a pretty solid offensive effort.

"We were pushing the play," said defenseman Victor Hedman. "I think we were a lot better offensively. We were winning our battles, taking it hard to the net and creating some havoc. There’s a lot of things we did well, it just didn’t go our way tonight."

The Bolts and Hurricanes play again at 4 p.m. on Saturday at Amalie Arena.

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