Bolts lose opener of Rangers’ series

by Gary Shelton on June 2, 2022

in general

Six pucks got past Vasilevskiy./TIM WIRT

Thursday, 4 a.m.

Here they are, bloodied once again. Here they are, their nose flattened again.

For the Tampa Bay Lightning, once again, it is the difference between being knocked down and knocked out. The Bolts trail in the Eastern Conference finals, 1-0, after losing a 6-2 opener to the New York Rangers.

The Bolts were tied 2-2 midway through the second period before the Rangers ran off and hid. They scored six times on goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy, who had given up only three in an entire series against Florida.

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Stamkos had a goal and an assist./TIM WIRT

It isn't the first time the Bolts have been beaten. During their last three years, they have lost 18 times in the playoffs. Every time, they have come back to win the next game. (In this instance, it will be Friday).

"A little puck management got the best of us in the second," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said . "Having to defend too much. There were things we did tonight we hadn’t done a ton of in the previous two rounds.

"The Rangers have some dynamic players. You give them an inch and they’ll take a mile. Give credit to them. They didn’t fluke their way to where they are. In saying that, we had better in us as well."

The Bolts fell behind 71 seconds int the game, but tied it when Steven Stamkos scored. Ondrej Palat's goal tied it at two, suggesting the nine days off weren't a factor. But the Bolts were slow defensively, and Vasilevskiy wasn't as sharp as he has been. The layoff could have contributed.

"This team isn't going to use that as an excuse," Stamkos aid.

"You have to give them credit. That ’s a really good hockey team over there. They played well tonight. We certainly didn’t have our best. Not much we can do about it now. We've got to be better. Too many turnovers and the execution wasn’t there tonight. We have to respond. We’ve been in this position before I’m confident our group is going to have a much better effort next time."

The Bolts had won six straight games before Wednesday night.

Filip Chytil scored twice for New York to lead the effort. New York Goaltender Igor Shesterkin made 37 stops.

Cooper blamed the defense more than Vasilevskiy.

“This isn’t on him at all," Cooper said. "The East-West defense, the quality scoring chances. You could have put both goalies in the net and they're probably going in."

The loss was reminiscent of the Bolts first came against Toronto in its opening series, a 5-0 loss. The Bolts tied the series the next night.

The teams play again on Friday night at Madison Square Garden.Tthe puck is scheduled to drop at 8 p.m.

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