Lightning Must Level Up After Losing Game 2 In Cup Final

Lightning Must Level Up After Losing Game 2 In Cup Final

Lightning Must Level Up After Losing Game 2 In Cup Final

DENVER — The Tampa Bay Lightning have never seen adversity like this before, at least not in three seasons of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Their quest to three-peat champions faces the greatest challenge after a 7-0 loss to the Colorado Avalanche in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final at Ball Arena on Saturday.

Yes, Tampa Bay is again 2-0 down in a best-of-7 series heading home for Game 3 at Amalie Arena on Monday (8pm ET; ABC, ESPN+, CBC, SN, TVAS). It’s the same hole the Lightning was in after losing the first two games of the Eastern Conference Final on the road to the New York Rangers.

But it feels like a steeper climb this time after what happened on Saturday.

“They’re playing at the elite level now, give them credit. Not us,” said Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper. “They’re two good teams. They’re just playing at a much higher level than we are at the moment, and I think it was clear that I saw that game tonight.

“So we have to improve our game.”

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The Lightning were able to do that after losing the Rangers’ first two games, but also had something to build on after finding their game in the second half of a 3-2 loss in Game 2. That gave them confidence to go home, and they won the next four games.

Tampa Bay will have to rely on home ice again for Game 3 against Colorado, but will essentially have to rebuild its game against a juggernaut who has won seven times in a row and is 14-2 in the playoffs.

The Lightning are at home 7-1 this postseason, including seven consecutive wins. But the Avalanche are 7-0 on the road.

“People are going to watch this game tonight and probably think the series is over,” Tampa Bay captain Steven Stamkos said. “But our group, we are a very resilient group. We can go home. We were in this position last round. So whether it’s 1-0 or 7-0 or 10-0, it’s a loss in the play -offs and you have to move on, and we have to fight as a team and as one person. Our team is going to do that.”

The Lightning thought to see the best of the Avalanche on Wednesday in a 4-3 overtime loss in Game 1. As it turned out, Colorado was just warming up.

Video: Nichushkin, Makar Power Avalanche’s Game 2 Attack

As in Game 1, when the Avalanche jumped to a 2-0 lead in the opening 9:23 and led 3-1 at the end of the first period, the Lightning struggled with their speed and relentless pressure. to go. This time it was 2-0 after the opening 7:55 and 3-0 at the end of the first period.

Tampa Bay Defender Ryan McDonagh‘s roughing penalty 1:01 in the game led to Valeri Nichushkin‘s power-play goal that opened the score at 2:54. defender Josh Manson scored on a 3-on-1 rush to make it 2-0 at 07:55.

Andre Burakovskywho scored the goal in overtime in Game 1, was left unattended to go to the net and rebound from . to finish Mikko Rantanen‘s shot from the right circle and made it 3-0 at 13:52.

“It was an undisciplined penalty from me and giving a team a power play in the first minute is never a great recipe,” said McDonagh. “And we lost our coverage and gave them strange looks and every time you do that you’re flirting with disaster and danger. Just a bad time to have a bad start.”

The difference in Game 2 was that the Lightning were never able to control the Avalanche, and they kept coming in waves. Nichushkin and Cale Makari each scored two goals. Rantanen had three assists.

While Avalanche goalkeeper Darcy Kuemper cruised to second playoff elimination in his career by making 16 saves, Lightning goalkeeper Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed seven goals on 30 shots.

“You tilt your hat to the execution they had, but at the same time there is a fine line between having respect for your opponent and too much respect for your opponent,” Stamkos said. “We have to realize that we came here for a reason. Let’s go back to our game and understand that they have an incredible team there with great skills in every position, but so do we.”

“So let’s see what we’re made of when we get home.”

Proud, two-time defending champions, the Lightning have two days to process what happened and figure out how to change the series in Game 3.

Tampa Bay faced New York in the conference final. To do it against Colorado, something special is needed.

“They are two completely different teams. They are two completely different series,” said Cooper. “The common factor is that we are 0-2 in front of them both. We have written one story. Now we have to write another story.”