TAMPA – The architect of Tampa Bay Find-A-Ways – as some in this bustling, turbulent city called a local hockey club – was recently asked how bleak their offer for three peats on May 12 looked.
The Toronto Maple Leafs were ropes champions in Round 1. The Lightning lost 3-2 in the series and 3-2 in Game 6. Half of Period 3.
There was blood in the water. But there was no panic.
“My opinion at the time was not so great that it was gloomy. It was challenging. It also gave us a great opportunity, ”says Lightning’s GM Julien Breeze-Bois, as calm as anyone in his field.
“This is what this final will be like. Colorado will be a great challenge. They are a phenomenal team. They have talent in every position. They probably have a bunch of great players for all the time when it’s all said and done. They are a great challenge for us. At the same time, it is an incredible opportunity for our boys. ”
Then Lightning returned home the most one-sided exclusion in the history of the Cup final “We could have played for three weeks, but we won’t get any [goal]”, Said coach John Cooper about the outbreak of Game 2) and for the third time this series fell behind Avalanche.
Give up nine unanswered goals in the championship and the mood can quickly get gloomy.
Still, it was another chance for the resourceful champions to continue the course.
The bolts took the next one from Anthony Sirelli, and another from Ondrej Palat. Finally, after 136 minutes, an advance.
Base for climbing from another deep hole, their third significant of four series.
“We knew it was a must for us,” said the captain Stephen Stamkoswho set up the Palace and shot a spinning beauty himself. I thought we played like that tonight.
In launching Avalanche’s heaviest post-season loss, 6-2, Lightning threw 10 different skaters into the record. They chased the incumbent Darcy Kuemper and managed to duplicate Pavel Frankuz.
The bolts were detailed and direct. Engaged in all three zones.
Their tent names performed clever offensive games, they were physical and energetic, and they locked the store in their own area, blocking the shots of their opponents 27-12.
“Full team effort. When it’s your turn, it’s your turn. You have to block a blow, there is no one on this team who is afraid to do it. They will face him. I saw you [Corey Perry] tonight he almost took one off his face, took it off his shoulder. It just shows that everyone on this team is willing to do whatever it takes to win. Nick Paul said.
“Winning hockey is what it is. Limiting speed, moving legs, firmly on the front checks, creating loose puck. And from there we managed to continue to gain momentum.
Stamkos said the bench held its collective breath in the first period when Paul fell awkwardly after being pushed by Josh Manson and limping down the tunnel.
Returning to Period 2, with a painful step to watch skates, Paul scored in his first shift back.
“It was inspiring,” Cooper said.
“The boys are obviously shaken, especially at this time of year, but in the fashion of a real hockey player, he sucks everything in and goes out and brings in the eventual winner of the game,” Stamkos added.
“You see how valuable he is to our team and all the little things he does, and he obviously scored a few big goals in the finals for us. Game 7 in Toronto. He had great moments in those playoffs. “
After scoring, Paul took another trip down the hall to check on him.
But he came back and finished the game. There was never any doubt in his mind.
“No, I was definitely coming back,” Paul said.
Will anyone be surprised now if Lightning also returns?
“I still think we’re fine, honestly. I thought tonight was a really good answer. We have a good crew and we are proud of that, “said Patrick Maroon.
“Play like this is your last game, right?”
The speed of the fox 5
• Brayden Point missed more than a month of action due to a lower body injury, played 1 and 2 games in Denver. He was nowhere to be found on Monday. His deputy, Riley Nash, skated team low 7:01. Cooper was a mother when asked if Point had failed.
Equally worrying is the health of Nikita Kucherov after this frightening cross-check by Devon Toews:
Cooper was asked about his thoughts on the check.
“When you are asked such questions, you are looking for an answer that everyone in the building already knows,” the coach replied. “It’s a contact game, but the boys know what they’re doing. Smart, understanding players know what they’re doing with their wand, and we’ve all seen it. “
Updates are expected on Tuesday, but depth ahead is a problem in Tampa.
• Hey, Nazem Kadri. Want to play Game 4?
• Even after Lightning scored their first goal 5 on 4, the battle of the special teams was seriously distorted.
Colorado already has five markers for a strong game and a goal with a short arm. Avs fasten the washer around and look deadly to almost any man-advantage.
“The special teams are huge, but I thought our five-on-five game was much better tonight,” Stamkos said. “So we have to stay disciplined. They have a great powerful game. “
• Corey Perry became the first player in NHL history to score in the Stanley Cup final for four different clubs (Ducks, Stars, Canadiens and Lightning).
• Charles Barkley, a good friend of Cooper’s, told ABC that he had called Commissioner Gary Batman directly to secure a pair of 3. Baller tickets.