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Lightning Round: Another round, another win

The Lightning advance without facing elimination once again

Tampa Bay Lightning v Carolina Hurricanes - Game Five Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

After the game, Coach Cooper stated that the Tampa Bay Lightning had survived two of their toughest rounds in his history with the organization. That’s something considering some of the match-ups they’ve had in the past. Despite how tough the series were, the Lightning never faced elimination. That makes six series in a row where they didn’t have a “lose and go home” game.

While the individual games have been close for the most part, the series themselves haven’t been all of that close. When you avoid back-to-back losses that tends to keep you out of trouble. The Lightning used a familiar formula to eliminate the Hurricanes - clutch goals from the superstars and lights-out goaltending from Andrei Vasilevskiy.

This team is really good. Really, really good. When they avoid making mistakes, there probably isn’t a team in the league that can beat them in a seven-game series (although a series against Colorado would be really good test).

A lot of times you will hear the phrase “survive and advance” from teams. They just want to make it through to the next round. The Lightning really don’t have that mentality. It’s more of a “thrive and advance” mindset. Make no doubt, they are playing their best hockey of the year right now. Game Five was a full 60-minute effort, something that we didn’t see much of in the regular season.

Carolina is a fantastic team and they spent the last two games chasing the Lightning around on the ice. Tampa Bay dictated the play, built leads and kept them (well except for the second period of Game Four, we’ll consider that an outlier). All four lines for the Lightning contributed in some way throughout the series and that depth is hard to match. Add to that the lethal power play and Vasilevskiy returning to Vezina form and there just aren’t many holes that other teams can exploit.

After dealing with two teams that thrive on pushing play down the ice, the Lightning are going to have to face either Boston or New York, two teams that are a bit more committed to keeping the puck out of their own net as opposed to outscoring their opponents. If the Islanders advance, it will be interesting to see if the changes they made in the off-season and at the trade deadline give them enough depth to change the outcome from last year.

Lightning Links

Goals from Brayden Point and Ross Colton were all the offense that Andrei Vasilevskiy needed as the Bolts closed out their second round series against the Carolina Hurricanes. Vasy posted his third straight series-clinching shutout with 29 saves.

The Bolts don’t need the fourth line to dominate every night, but when they do, it makes them so much harder to beat. Last night’s game was one of the best nights for Tyler Johnson, Pat Maroon, and Ross Colton as a unit.

“I’m proud of their effort.” Coach Cooper’s postgame press conference.

Rod Brind’Amour had some nice words for Andrei Vasilevskiy in the post-game handshake line.

Speaking of Lightning goalies who have played in Russia, former Bolt/Crunch netminder Eddie Pasquale had a pretty good year in the KHL.

Speaking of the Crunch, their final schedule is still a ways away from being finalized, but they announced six home dates. Opponents still to be named.

NHL News

Nazem Kadri’s eight-game suspension, deemed “excessive by Kadri and the NHLPA, was upheld by an independent arbitrator. That means he will be out at least one more game in the Avalanche/Golden Knights series. He would be eligible if there is a Game Three.

Matt Dumba, Oskar Lindblom, and Patrick Marleau are the three finders for the Masterton Trophy which will be awarded to the player that best exemplifies the “qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey”. Steven Stamkos was the Lightning’s nominee this season.

When you and I log onto the Twitter machine to complain about NHL officiating, we’re shouting into the void and there are little to no repercussions. When a NHL coach does it, the fines come a flyin’. Boston’s Bruce Cassidy no longer possess $25,000 that he had yesterday following his comments about the officiating in Game Five of their series against the New York Islanders.

Last Night’s Other Game:

Golden Knights 3, Avalanche 2 (OT)

Vegas leads series 3-2

Colorado built a 2-0 lead through two periods, but the Golden Knights stormed back in the third period with goals from Alex Tuch and old friend Jonathan Marchessault. Mark Stone ended it just 50 seconds into overtime. Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 28 of 30 shots to pick up yet another postseason victory.

Tonight’s Game:

Bruins at Islanders 7:30pm EST, NBCSN, CBC, TVAS, SN

Islanders lead series 3-2

The only game on the docket is of interest to Lightning fans. This series will determine who the Bolts will play in the next round (no matter who advances, the Lightning will have home ice for the first time in the postseason). Can Boston’s “Perfection Line” extend it to a Game 7 or will the Islanders close it out at home? Tune in to find out.