The Lightning had a bad game on Thursday. A very bad game. Yeah, they covered it up a bit by scoring five goals in one period (a postseason franchise record!) but for most of the night Florida was the better team. It’s ok to admit that. I still think Tampa is the better team overall, but for one night the Panthers outplayed the Lightning.
Matt will get into the nitty, gritty details with his Morning After Thoughts, but as an overall general impression, Florida played like a desperate team and the Lightning played like a team that could afford to lose a game. They were sloppy with the puck and when they had the lead, they were too passive, allowing the Panthers way too much time with the puck in the Tampa Bay zone.
For a goaltender that gave up six goals, Andrei Vasilevskiy was one of the better players on the ice. Would he like the game-tying goal back? Probably, but then again he wants every goal that he gives up back. There is an argument to be made that Florida could have put up eight or nine goals last night. The team’s defensive effort was that bad.
This will be the first test this postseason to see if the Lightning can bounce back from a poor outing. Last season’s run was marked by their ability to stay even-keeled through the highs of victory and the lows of defeats. Victor Hedman acknowledged it after the game, “You’re going to get ups and downs throughout a playoff series and it’s how you respond as a group...I’m not worried about our group when it comes to responding to a loss like this.”
“No one is worried in our locker room,” Alex Killorn added.
Prior to the start of the series, most of the pundits (us included) thought this would be a long series. Florida is a good team, a really good team. While they might not have the postseason experience the Lightning have, they have the talent level. The Bolts are up 2-1 in a seven-game series and still have home-ice advantage. I think most of us would take that.
Up two-games-to-none and playing on home ice is as close to an ideal spot to lose a game in a playoff series. A win and you’re up 3-1, a loss and it’s just 2-2, so it’s a best of three series.
The Panthers had to throw everything they had at the Bolts, play with desperation, and hope to catch a few breaks. All of that happened on Thursday night and the Lightning still took them to overtime and were a Mikhail Sergachev crossbar away from winning the game. Some losses, especially overtime losses, feel like gut punches. For some reason this one didn’t feel that way. It had more of a “all that for a drop of blood” feel to it.
It wouldn’t be surprising to see them come out on Saturday and push the play. One of the hallmarks of last season’s team was their ability to bounce back from losses, they never lost two in a row on their way to the Cup. If they can repeat that trait then they will head back to Sunrise with a 3-1 series lead. That’s not a bad place to be.
It was nice to see Anthony Cirelli score a goal. Same thing with Ross Colton. It’s always nice when rookies score.
Last night’s other games:
Penguins 5, Islanders 4
Pittsburgh leads series 2-1
Branden Tanev scored with less than four minutes left in the game to give the Penguins the lead and prevent their fans from overreacting. Evgeni Malkin came back with two assists after not playing in the first two games while Jeff Carter scored twice.
Canadiens 2, Maple Leafs 1
Montreal leads series 1-0
Paul Byron scored shorthanded to break the 1-1 tie in the third period and Carey Price made 35 saves as Montreal took the first game of the series. More concerning for the Leafs was their captain leaving on a stretcher. John Tavares took a Corey Perry knee to his face midway through the first period.
Golden Knights 5, Wild 2
Vegas leads series 2-1
Things started well in St. Paul as the Wild jumped out to a 2-goal lead. Unfortunately, Vegas scored the next five on their way to an easy victory. Mark Stone scored twice and Marc-Andre Fleury only faced 16 shots, stopping 14 of them.
Capitals at Bruins 6:30pm EST, NBCSN, TVAS, SN360, SNE, SNO
Washington leads series 2-1
Hurricanes at Predators 7:00pm EST, USA, FXX-CA, TVAS2, BSSO,
Carolina leads series 2-0
Jets at Oilers 9:00pm EST, NBCSN, CBC, TVAS, SN
Winnipeg leads series 1-0
Avalanche at St. Louis 9:30pm EST, USA, SN360, TVAS2, BSMW, ALT
Colorado leads series 2-0