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Lightning Round: One more must-win game for the Bolts

The Lightning are 4-0 in elimination games over the last three playoffs.

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2022 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Four Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images

NHL fans have been writing off the Tampa Bay Lightning since Game 1 of their first-round matchup against the Toronto Maple Leafs, when the Lightning were destroyed 5-0 in Toronto. But here we are, almost two months later, and the Bolts are still fighting for their third consecutive Stanley Cup. On Friday night, the Lightning defeated the Colorado Avalanche in Denver, cutting their lead in the series to 3-2; tonight they will try to equalise the series, forcing Game 7.

The Avs failed to eliminate the Bolts in front of full Ball Arena on Friday, now they will have to face the full Amalie Arena, where the stands will be relentlessly rooting against them. The Avalanche are road-game experts, losing just one away game this postseason. This only loss, however, happened against the Bolts in Game 3, where the Avs suffered a 6-2 debacle.

It will be also fifth elimination game for the Lightning over the last three playoffs. During that span they are 4-0 in those games and Andrei Vasilevskiy stats are even more impressive.

The Lightning also could become the 7th team to force Game 7 after trailing 3-1 in the history of Stanley Cup finals and the first team since Edmonton Oilers in 2006.

Speaking with the media yesterday, coach Jon Cooper mentioned that the Bolts are equipped to handle elimination games due to their experience.

Cooper also complimented his blue line and especially Mikhail Sergachev, who recorded two assists in previous game.

Lightning / NHL News

A story about how Ondrej Palat’s parents organized a watch party in his hometown of Frýdek-Místek in the Czech Republic for Game 5 [The Athletic]

In Palat’s hometown of Frýdek-Místek in the Czech Republic, his parents had organized a watch party in their local rink. Even though the game started at 2:30 a.m. local time, approximately 150 people were jumping in and out of their wooden, folding chairs. They had feasted on goulash and baked goods made by Palat’s mother, Hana, fulfilling one of her family’s countless gameday traditions. All around Czechia, fans gather when the national team plays. But in this humble, blue-collar city, the Lightning are their team, and Palat is their hometown hero, as shown by the size of the crowd at Palat’s day with the Stanley Cup last summer.

With Erik Cernak playing partially-injured, more responsibility fell on Mikhail Sergachev’s shoulders, but he’s handling it very well [Tampa Bay Sports]

Early in its Game 5 win Friday, the way Lightning defenseman Mikhail Sergachev collapsed on star Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon in open ice set the tone for Tampa Bay.

“When I sit on the bench and somebody makes a hit like that, it gets me going,” Sergachev said. “So that’s all I can say. I hope it got our team going, but our team was playing really well before my hit. So it’s just a part of the game.”

Despite Darcy Kuemper allowing some unnecessary goals on Friday, the Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar is still confident in his goaltender [Sportsnet]

Bednar said after the game that Kuemper was “OK” and he’d “like to see him get the first one, obviously,” but gave his netminder a vote of confidence and shouldered the burden on the team as a whole while addressing reporters Saturday morning.

“He’s gotten us to this point,” Bednar said. “We’re in the Stanley Cup Final with a 3-2 series lead and we saw what he could do in the second game in Tampa. In order to beat a team like Tampa, as good as they are, we need strong performances from our whole team. One sneaks through him last night. We find a way to battle back and then we have a breakdown on the final goal.

The Chicago Wolves have won the 2021-22 Calder Cup, defeating the Springfield Thunderbirds in Game 5 of the final series.

A former Toronto Maple Leafs player Josh Leivo has been named the MVP of the Calder Cup playoffs.