Coach Jon Cooper
On the top players being the top players
“I don’t know how far teams go when their big guys aren’t going. You need them at times, especially when your back is against the wall, I can’t sit here and say our back was against the wall, it was one game. We needed tonight and they stepped up. It started with our goaltender. He was outstanding.
Then we fed off those two penalty kills at the start of the game. It just gave us energy and we took off from there.”
The momentum change from scoring late in the first
“I think they iced it with 15 seconds left so you’re almost thinking we could be out of it, then we score. So, it was maybe a little sigh of relief for our group. Kind of try and take the crowd out of it a little bit. For me the big one is the second one. It’s all well and good to score one, but they [can] tie it, but we get the second one and now you’re making them chase a bit. It worked out for us.”
“John, Victor Hedman’s probably not going to win the Norris Trophy this year”
“We don’t know that, yet.
“No I don’t, that’s why I said probably.”
“But apparently you didn’t vote for him first”
[General laughter in the room]
Hedman seems to have a “beast mode” and he turned it on for Game Two
“It’s going back to your best players being your best players. He’s the guy, he quarterbacks our power play back there. I was talking about that second goal, how about the pass he makes to [Corey] Perry? So you need that out of your guys, especially when he’s playing north of 25 minutes a night. He defended, he penalty killed. He did everything in every situation. I don’t know, what did he have like four points tonight?
That’s the catalyst for us - the big guys step up and everybody chips in behind them and we have success.”
The execution of the power play
“Well it was a heck of a lot better than it was the first night. Again this series has been a lot about special teams if you think about it. The power plays for each team have scored. There’s shorthanded goals in there, there’s a bunch of stuff. For our guys to start feeling good about themselves out there, especially after how the first night unfolded, it was nice to see.”
Did you have to say anything to the guys in regards to the officiating after Game One?
“Not really. We’re aware of what we’re doing. We can only control ourselves we can’t control the other team. You’ve got to play the game between the whistles. It was a little frustrating on our part, we took a too-many-men [penalty]. It’s playoff hockey and guys are going to step up and back their team. Much like, we did the other night, they did tonight. It’s teams that are battling hard, we just gotta be smart about it.”
Not losing two games in a row
“I think about that. What does it take to bounce back like that? It takes character. You have to have that in your room. They’re aware of situations. You have to tip your hat to those guys, to lose a playoff game and the next night go in and say, ‘We’re not losing this one.’
You’ve got a really good chance of winning the Stanley Cup if you can do that. Not lose two in a row.”
Does this team hate to lose more than they like to win?
“One of the players said that to me after Game One and we kind of shared it with the team. That’s what you have to do. You have to make it personal. You have to create an anger inside and a want. Whether your want is to win or your want is not to lose, either one. That was the mindset we had going into tonight.”
The confidence the team gets from Vasilevskiy and Hedman being at their best
“Everything starts there, right? I know we gave up three [goals] tonight and probably a little disappointed we gave up those last two when we probably didn’t have to. Everything starts with defending and I thought we did a pretty good job with that, but to be able to defend you need to have the horses back there. We’ve got the goalie. Whether it’s Heddy or[Erik] Cernak, or Mac [Ryan McDonagh], or [Mikhail] Sergachev, or Bogo [Zach Bogosian] and [Cal] Foote were great, you’ve got to make life hard on teams when they come around your net. I thought we’ve done a good job with that. Pretty fortunate to have some of those players back there.
Rutta still banged up a little bit?
“He’s got some stitches, it’s just never good to be in that situation. I talked to our guys and said ‘You might be out one game, but you might be in the next.’ It’s not a ‘this is what we’re doing and we change out line-up if we lose.’ We’ll change out line-up if we win. We wanted to get Bogo in one of these two and tonight was the night.”
The newer guys fitting in on the penalty kill
“It’s a necessity for us. Our P.K. was doing fairly well during the year, but I think [Brandon] Hagel and [Nick] Paul have added a little pop to us, given us some more depth. With the three guys we had that were consistant there, they know what they’re doing back there.
First of all you can’t be taking the amount of penalties. We took four tonight. To me that’s still too much, especially against a power play like theirs. When you do, you have to be able to kill them off. That’s the biggest thing for me your P.K. has to be rolling. When you’re holding teams to zero goals it’s giving yourself a chance to win.”
Brayden Point and Brandon Hagel
Why was the power play better tonight?
[Point]: I think our entry was better, able to gain the zone, set up a little better. I thought our effort was better. Obviously, giving up a shorty, that team is dangerous, gotta work on that. I thought just because we were able to set up a little better we had more time in there.
The key to not losing two games in a row
[Point]: I think we got our show ran in the first there so we wanted to have a better night. We’ve got a good leadership group that gets us ready for games and bounce back games. We were just a little more ready tonight.”
Having Hedman and Vasilevskiy
[Point]: “When they’re going our team our team is a lot better. Heddy tonight had a big night and Vasy making a lot of huge saves for us. He’s done that in the past and again tonight. It’s good to see.”
Hagel on his goal
[Hagel]: “It’s nice to get that one early and out of the way so you don’t have to worry about it. This group has been through it so I couldn’t ask for a better group of guys to help me through the start of the playoffs and find my way.”
How the group handles themselves after a loss
[Hagel]: “I think anyone would react the same way after we got our, like Pointer said, our show ran in the first game. I think anyone, any competitive hockey player, would be a little ticked off and want to find a way to get back to the way we know how to play. Come out in the second and whatever happens happens, but we came out on top tonight.”
The importance of staying disciplined
[Point]: “They’re calling it tight. It’s playing hard, but playing between the whistles is a focus for us. I thought tonight we were still able to finish checks and play physical, but walk that line a little bit, I guess. We know how dangerous that team is on the power play so staying out of the box is crucial. I think we did a good job of that tonight.
How was the penalty kill tonight?
[Hagel]: “That one at the end was huge. Like Pointer said, they’re calling it pretty tight, and our special teams came out to play tonight - the power play with three goals, the P.K. doing a heck of a job. Their power play is unbelievable over there, they got some good players over there so for us to kill those off is huge. We definitely found a way tonight.”
Matching up against the Auston Matthews line
[Point]: “Tony [Cirelli] is really good defensively, he always has been. With them [the Matthews line], they’re world class players, they’ve got world class talent, they’re fast, they’ll find seams, they’ll make plays, so as much as you can know where they are on the ice and try your best to take away time and space. You know how dangerous they are and that’s what we’re trying to do.”
Corey Perry and Victor Hedman
[Perry]: “I think they were changing and I just kept going and he made a great seam pass and I was in all alone.”
How good was Victor all night?
[Perry]: “I thought he was solid. He leads by example and he’s done that all season. When we needed somebody to step up it’s been our big boys that have done it and they proved that tonight.”
Do you play better when you’re a little ticked off?
[Hedman]: “Tonight it was for sure, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be losses. We know we’re coming in here, we haven’t played them in the playoffs before and to lose the first game 5-0 is not going to leave a good taste. We had a couple of days to regroup and look at what we did wrong and look what they do. We know they’re a great team, they’ve proven that all year. We knew we needed a bounce back game today.
That goal at the end of the first was a big mental boost for us, I think. We got the second one right away. Then they scored and we bounced right back and scored one. We had answers when we faced some adversity and that goes to show what this team is all about.”
Did he have an internal clock on the first goal?
[Hedman]: “Yeah, I was counting down: 3, 2, shoot!” [General laughter] No, I had no clue. I knew there were 16 seconds left when I got the puck because I looked up and I just tried to go for it. I kept going to the net and I was waiting for Kuch [Nikita Kucherov] to get open, but he didn’t so I was able to sneak it in on the short side.
“Yeah I was looking for Kuch, but I don’t know if he got tangled up or not, but I was waiting to pass to Kuch, he’s a better goal scorer than I am. So, for us it was a big goal. Doesn’t matter who scores it. A second left in the first, it brings you a ton of energy heading into the second period.
Managing the physicality of the game
[Perry]: “I thought we were engaged right from the start. There’s that line, you can’t cross it. It’s a fine line in the playoffs. You’re going to finish your check, you’ve got to earn every piece of the ice. Tonight I thought out guys did a good job in battling hard and pushing it north. We got rewarded for it.”