Following their 7-3 win, select member of the Tampa Bay Lightning spoke with the media about the win.
Comments have been edited for clarity.
Coach Jon Cooper
The effect on Toronto of the three early goals
“We scored early and often. Usually when you do that you put a team on their heels and that was the game.”
Did the first shift set the tone for the way you want to play?
“I think you’re asking questions you already know the answers to, it was a good shift.”
How good was your work ethic tonight?
How have you liked Brayden Point’s play in the series?
“Brayden Point’s been exceptional. You’d be hard-pressed to not say he’s been the best player on the ice. What he’s had to do it may not show up on the scoresheet every shift, but he’s been great for us.”
What’s stood out about Brandon Hagel?
“The whole line’s been great. He’s skating, he’s working and there’s no quit in that kid. Like any player that gets traded, it takes a little time to fit in and find your way. He’s really found his way. It’s been a great add for us.”
Has it been a difficult series to read?
“I don’t know, that’s for you guys to decide.”
Tough start for Pat Maroon, was it nice to see him get going?
“It was. What about the line? We had five goals [minus the empty net], they had three of them. Each one had a goal. You know how it is in the playoffs, if you can get depth scoring it’s usually a good thing for you. It was great to see those guys...I know the guys on the bench were really happy for them.”
How do you build on the momentum?
“This is just one game, we’re here to win a series.”
The Stamkos goal
“When you get up 1-0 in the first couple minutes of the game you’re pretty fired up. He scored one of his staple one-timers. It’s much better to play with the lead, and we did tonight and it worked out.”
Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Ross Colton
Did the early three goals take Toronto out of the game?
[Colton]: Yeah, anytime you can hop out to an early lead it’s going to give out team some momentum. We knew they weren’t going to go away. It’s a credit to our guys in the locker room, instead of sitting back and letting them take it to us, we said, ‘Hey, let’s get the next one, and the next one after that.’ We knew they were going to push there, credit to the guys for sticking with it, sticking to the game plan.
What stuck out to you playing with Hagel?
[Colton]: He’s been awesome. Me, him, and Paulie [Nick Paul] have been getting some chemistry going which is nice. We haven’t played together all that much before this so it’s nice to get some games here. He just does so many of the little things right, some of the stuff that doesn’t come up on the scoresheet. The amount of times he’s using his legs and beating out icings, that goes a long way because we’re not taking D-Zone face-offs. That blocked shot was huge, that kind of sticks out. There’s so many things in his game that he does the right way and that’s when he gets rewarded for it.
Work ethic type of game
[Bellemare]: That’s kind of the game plan, go back to ourselves. Work the Tampa Bay way. We came out pretty hard, not thinking about scoring goals, we just thought about playing our way and do the right thing, and the puck just fell into us. When you do the right thing out there, you sacrifice yourself for the team, you usually get rewarded.
How do you carry this effort forward?
[Bellemare]: You get the momentum out of the win, but you can’t have too highs or too lows. This is one game and we know it’s going to be a tough battle, but if we bring what we brought tonight, it’s all that matters, right?
Ross, is there something that has helped raise your game from last year to this year?
[Colton]: I think it’s just the energy in the building and stuff like that. You play such a long season and it’s grueling, it’s tough on the body and the mind, but you go through all that sacrifice and block those shots and do the extra work for times like this. Just growing up and watching playoff hockey there’s a different energy that I’ve always wanted to be part of. Now I get super-excited even more to be a part of it and do whatever I can to help the team win. I get excited to come to the rink and work with the rest of the guys.
The play Cal Foote made to lead to Colton’s goal
[Colton]: He’s been playing amazing these first four games. Definitely give him a lot of credit, he’s upped his game. He held the line there, good thing he did because I think they were going on an odd-man rush if he didn’t do that. He had a big hit and kept the puck in the zone and Hagel with eyes in the back of his head as I was calling for it, made an unbelievable pass to spring me to get over the line and I tried to get a shot on net. Luckily it went in. Cal started that for sure.
How is this team able to flush losses away?
[Bellemare]: It’s not just the losses. I felt like we didn’t play the right way, we were penalized a lot and we were not happy about it. The third period of the last game we knew we our game plan was coming, we just had to do a little more of it. They got penalized a lot, right? Our start is the way we want to play. We were the hungrier team tonight. Usually when you come out low, that’s the difficult part. Not too high, not too lows. We were not happy about the way that game ended, the first game at home, so we came out much harder and this more like what we want to do.
The importance of the first goal
[Bellemare]: It is. You don’t want to be chasing the game. There is a mental effect on the first goal. we all know it. It’s not especially about that goal, it’s about the way we came out. That goal came about, obviously it’s a sick play from Kuch [Nikita Kucherov] to Stammer [Steven Stamkos]. The way their line [indicates Colton] came out, that carried us into that momentum. Then the goals happened, but it could have been any line out there with the way they started. They could have just followed up and get those goals.
Steven Stamkos and Pat Maroon
[To Maroon] Where did you learn those moves?
[Stamkos to Maroon]: I guess he hasn’t seen your highlights from OHL, I guess. [laughter]
[Maroon]: I don’t know. Pointer just drove to the net and he gave me the area, used my hands in tight, and I guess I put it in.
How important was that first goal?
[Stamkos]: The first goals has been important in this series so far. Other than that we had a great start. That was one of our keys, to come out and play the right way. We got rewarded for that. Great team effort to start and it just carried through.
Was the even strength play a carry over from Game Three?
[Stamkos]: We talked about finding some success in the third period and wanting to replicate that. It was certainly a conversation we’ve had with this group since that third period the other night. We watched some video and guys took it to heart. We came out and started the right way. Again, another game with a lot of penalties so maybe not a true indication of 5-on-5, but to start the game I like the way out group responded.
[Maroon]: Yeah, he’s been playing well. He’s been using his body, been using his speed. So that shows how effective he is when he’s driving pucks wide. He’s in on the forecheck, he ha sa good stick, taking pucks to the net, making good plays behind the net. On the P.K. he eats a puck and blocks a huge shot. He’s been a heck of a player for us these last four games. He’s been fun to watch in this postseason. It’s been fun. He’s just gotta keep using his speed, using his intensity, and that line has been playing well for us.
Has this series been hard to figure out?
[Stamkos]: That’s the great thing about the playoffs, you never know what you’re going to get every night. We got to find a way to buck that trend going into Toronto. I think if anything we’ve learned from the mistakes we’ve made earlier in the series especially after Game Two - winning that and then not having the best start in Game Three. We’re a veteran group, we’ll lean on our experience and we know how critical Game Five is in this tight series.
How difficult is it to close out games?
[Stamkos]: One team is going to have a tendency to sit back, the other team is going to have a tendency to push. That’s what happens in those situations. We saw it the other night with Toronto holding onto a 3-0 lead. We pushed, they hang on. Obviously there was a little bit more of a lead tonight. Those are the situations where sometimes you just turn the page in the playoffs. It’s about winning and we don’t care how we get it done. Certainly there are things we want to improve on, but we got out to that lead because we deserved it. We knew they were going to come and they get a questionable penalty. We knew we were going to get the first penalty of the third period with the way the penalties went. Not unexpected they capitalized. We got out to that lead and played the right way and deserved to win that game.
Another response after a loss
[Stamkos]: It’s a good recipe come playoff time to not loss two in a row. Like I said, this group has proven it knows what it takes at this time of the year and we know how to respond. Now that we’ve done that twice now in this series, lets go out and grab the series lead. That’s gotta be the mentality. We just need to harness that energy we come out with after a loss, let’s do it again next game.
[Maroon]: He’s been playing good. I look at Ross as a gamer. He shows up at big times, big moments. Ross is a heck of a player, he had a heck of a season this year. Down the stretch, the last 20 games and in the postseason, he’s played very, very well for us, scoring some big time goals for us. He’s playing heavy, he’s on the forecheck. He’s doing the little things and getting in the those hard areas. That’s why he’s getting opportunities, he’s moving his feet. It’s good to see. We need everyone in the postseason, we need all four lines. You need guys going at key moments. You can’t just rely on your all-stars all the time. Ross has done a good job of bringing everyone together.
How much of this was a work ethic game?
[Maroon]: I think Stammer touched on it. We play like that, we just got to find a way to do it next game. We know we can do it, we know what works. We know what’s successful for our team and playing the right way. Unfortunately playing hard, playing the right way works. It makes life easier when you move your feet and you’re on the forecheck, backcheck, and you’re breaking up plays. It makes life easier for a lot of people and everyone on the ice. So we’ve just got to continue that going into Game Five.