Tampa † There was something strange about meeting at Amalie Arena for a playoff game. The first played in Tampa since July 7, the day of Shea Weber’s last game in the NHL.
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Oh yeah ! It was also the day that the Lightning players won the Stanley Cup for the second consecutive season. Only this time the result was very different.
In this third first-round showdown against the Toronto Maple Leafs, a game Jon Cooper had called the pivotal game in the morning, it was the Lightning who lost.
The visitors rode to a 5-2 win to take a 2-1 lead in the series. The score doesn’t necessarily match the pace of the game as Ilya Mikheyev scored twice in an empty net to take the game out of the hosts’ reach.
Yes, the Leafs had taken the lead with goals from Morgan Rielly, Colin Blackwell and David Kampf, but the Lightning never gave up.
Sunk by the punishments
An impromptu meeting with Mathieu Darche a few minutes before the game started allowed him to point out to the author of these rules that the Lightning has been playing to packed houses since 2015, the longest active streak in the NHL.
The slogan “Be the Thunder” (“Be the Thunder”) has always been well understood by Tampa supporters who ensure that the atmosphere within the perimeter is heightened.
Plus, despite being three goals down, thunder never stopped roaring, possibly keeping Cooper’s troops alive. That and the fact that his men played much more disciplined from the half.
“We talked about it before the game. Getting that many penalties is not ideal. They took the opportunity to grab the momentum. They may have only scored one power play goal, but they probably had 15 shots on the net.” , said defense attorney Victor Hedman.
10 intense minutes
Ondrej Palat isn’t the first name that comes to mind when we think of the Lightning’s big guns. Still, it was he who brought his team back into the game by participating in his two goals.
Tampa nearly completed its comeback, buzzing endlessly into enemy territory for the last 10 minutes.
“We’ve been fighting to come back from behind, but it’s not easy to close a three-goal gap in the playoffs,” said Steven Stamkos. I think we finally found the right recipe. I liked our answer but their guardian [Jack Campbell] made some good saves. †
WHAT WE NOTICED…
Matthews de Grapeshot
If you’re under the impression that Auston Matthews spent the evening on the ice, you’re not far from the truth. It was used for 22 min 20 s, an eternity for an attacker. He fired five shots on target, two of them on the same break. Andrei Vasilevskiy had the best of them all.
The threat of Point
Brayden Point’s tenacity and fighting spirit gave the Leafs a headache. While they were in the lead, he gave his linemates some good scoring opportunities. Steven Stamkos and Anthony Cirelli, both with one-timers, missed the opportunity to close the gap.
Jon Cooper had chosen to pit Cirelli’s unit against Matthews’s. According to the site naturalstattrick.com, the Lightning coach’s match bet when he could was the right one, as the Florida trio had 13 shots against no one, six chances to score against no one and six dangerous opportunities against no one.
More effective at four
It was on special teams that Mitch Marner stood out. He was complicit in Morgan Rielly’s superiority goal, a facet of the game in which he fired two shots (out of five massive attacks). But what was lacking was one man that the Toronto striker was most threatening, directing four pucks on Vasilevskiy.