Bolts punch back in Stanley Cup finals

by Gary Shelton on June 21, 2022

in general

Stamkos had a strong game for Bolts./TIM WIRT

Tuesday, 4 a.m.

Did you expect them to surrender?

Did you expect them to take a knee?

After all the times you have seen the fight in the Tampa Bay Lightning, did you expect them to usher the Colorado Avs across the carpet and point them to the Stanley Cup?

Oh, the Lightning still trail in the series to the skilled Colorado Avalanche, and with both Brayden Point and Nikita Kucherov hobbled, the task in front of them remains imposing.

Content beyond this point is for members only.

Already a member? To view the rest of this column, sign in using the handy "Sign In" button located in the upper right corner of the blog (it's at the far right of the navigation bar under Gary's photo)!

Not a member? It's easy to subscribe so you can view the rest of this column and all other premium content on

Kucherov was injured late in the game./TIM WIRT

Still, wouldn't you expect the Lightning to show up at some point in their Stanley Cup final series?

The Bolts bounced back Monday night, winning a 6-2 verdict over the Avs. Tampa Bay can tie the series in Wednesday night's game, although Colorado would still have the home-ice advantage.

Still, it won't be easy. The Lightning chose to play Monday night without Point, who has been injured, and Kucherov had to leave the ice when he was hit late in the game.

Yet, we have a series on our hands. The stars of the Lightning showed up in Game Three, and they led the Bolts to their first victory of the series. Steven Stamkos had a goal and an assist. Victor Hedman had two assists. Kucherov had two assists. And goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy, one game after giving up seven goals, stopped 34 shots.

Stamkos also had two blocked shots and won 23 face-offs.

Cirelli scored the first goal for Bolts./TIM WIRT

“There’s a recipe in place of how we have success," said Lightning coach Jon Cooper. "It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to see what hasn’t worked for us in games we’ve been blown out and what has worked for us in games we’ve won. A big part of the game is managing the puck, These guys  are a hell of a team. They skate, they work , they’ve got skill. You give them an inch, they take a mile. So you have to take away the inches."

The Bolts have trailed in a lot of their post-season.  They faced two elimination games against Toronto. They lost the first two games to the Rangers. They lost the first two games to the Avs.

This was better. The Lightning was crisper, more efficient. They scored. They swarmed. They blocked shots.

"There’s a reason why we’re here, and there’s a reason why we won tonight," Cooper said. "And there’s a reason we won the last couple of years. The guys you need to lead you have been doing that. You watch Stammer’s growth and Hedman’ growth over the years. It’s not a coincidence that winning has followed us.”

Said Stamkos: “We had to, right? It’s not a true elimination game, but this group was in this position last round. We knew pretty much this was a must-win game for us. We played like it. Our attention to detail was a lot better."

The Bolts got goals from Anthony Cirelli, Ondrej Palat, Stamkos,, Nick Paul, Pat Maroon and Corey Perry. But don't forget the resiliency of Vasilevskiy, who gave up a career high seven goals in his previous game.

"A big part is our goaltender to go through what he went through two nights ago and to perform like he did tonight," Cooper said. "To have them score first and then for the team to  respond and back him up... I guess that’s how you get to places we’ve been."

The Lightning will attempt to tie the series Wednesday night at 8 p.m. at Amalie Arena.

Maroon found the net./TIM WIRT

Previous post:

Next post: