Palat takes over as Lightning takes big lead

by Gary Shelton on August 30, 2020

in general

Palat has four goals in three games./CHUCK MULLER

Sunday, 4 a.m.

For most of his eight-year career, the best way to describe Ondrej Palat was that of a complimentary player.

You know: When someone else would do something big, Palat would compliment them. As in: "Nice shot, Nikita" or "Great pass, Stammer." Nice player, but no, he hasn't exactly been the brightest star in the constellation.

Yet, suddenly, Palat is a headliner.

Once again, Palat paced the Tampa Bay Lightning Saturday as it took a commanding 3-1 lead in their Stanley Cup playoff series against the

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Boston Bruins. Palat scored two goals -- he now has four of the team's 13 in the last three games -- to lead the Bolts to a 3-1 victory.

For nine games in these playoffs, Palat did not score. He had just two assists. On the season, Palat had 17 goals. But no one ever confused him with Nikita Kucherov or Steven Stamkos.

Until lately.

The Lightning is one victory away -- and granted, the fourth one is commonly called the hardest one to win in a series -- from being halfway to the Stanley Cup. you believe yet?

“Players who shoot a lot have confidence and that’s what he has," said Lightning coach Jon Cooper. "We’ve put him in position to take some shots. He also has two pretty good players who are giving him the puck. If you have some guys who can get it to you, your job is to shoot it.

"There's a reason he is playing with those guys ... it's because he can. I’m just happy they're going in for him. He pays such a price on the ice. You talk about 200 foot players, he’s one of the poster children for it. "

The Bolts have now scored 11 of the last 13 goals in the series.

 “I think I’m playing the same game," Palat said. "Obviously, Pointer made a great play, and Cirelli on my second goal. I’m just happy it's going in. I'm happy with the way the team is playing."

Palat now has 25 playoff goals for the Lightning, fourth-place all-time, and is ahead of Steven Stamkos and Vinny Lecavalier.

“Pally’s a confident player," said teammate Brayden Point. "He has tons of skill. He’s super reliable for us. He’s always in the right spot. He sees the ice well. He’s got a heck of a shot.”

The Second Round continues Monday with Game 5 between the Lightning and the Bruins from Toronto’s Scotiabank Arena, The puck drop scheduled for 7 p.m. and the Bolts with a chance to close out the series and move on to the Eastern Conference Final for the fourth time in the last six seasons.

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