Lightning learn from opening loss, prepare for big Game 2
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) After surviving 21 tumultuous playoff games over the past seven weeks, the Tampa Bay Lightning weren't about to get discouraged after losing Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final.
That doesn't mean the Lightning haven't spent the past two days stewing about how to improve when the series continues in Game 2 on Saturday night.
The Chicago Blackhawks pulled out a 2-1 victory in the opener despite not scoring until the final seven minutes, extending their lengthy history of grit under pressure. Tampa Bay regretted giving that opportunity to the Hawks, who could take a 2-0 series lead back to Chicago unless the Lightning play every minute with urgency at Amalie Arena.
''I think we learned a lesson there,'' Tampa Bay captain Steven Stamkos said Friday. ''We've got to continue to pressure. (The way) we look at it, maybe if we were able to generate a couple more chances to get that second goal, maybe it would have been a different game.''
The Lightning spent the past two days feeling largely good about the way they played - except in the third period. Such a tentative finish could haunt a young team with just one Stanley Cup champion on its roster, but the Lightning don't seem to be that type of team.
Lightning veteran Brendan Morrow puts it this way: ''I can give my kid Froot Loops, and an hour later he'll tell me he hasn't had any yet, and he wants some Froot Loops. So yeah, that memory is a good thing when you can let it roll off your back, and we're hoping that's the case for us.''
Here are some more things to watch when Tampa Bay attempts to even the series, thereby earning at least one more home game:
ONE IS GOOD, TWO IS BETTER: The Lightning went 1-3 in Game 1 during this postseason. They are 3-0 in Game 2s, winning by a combined 17-5. Tampa Bay ascribes little importance to this quirk of scheduling, but it's clear the Lightning know how to make adjustments, particularly after an extra day of rest and practice. ''Game 1 is definitely a feeling-out period, especially in this series when you haven't played these teams very often,'' Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper said. ''Maybe we've got a little bit more panic since we were down in Game 1. I don't know, there's maybe some more focus in Game 2.''
BITE MARKS: Andrew Shaw won't admit biting Victor Hedman in Game 1, even when asked direct yes-or-no questions about it. Hedman won't talk about what certainly appeared to happen between them Game 1. We'll soon see if their scuffle was a weird footnote or a harbinger of a more bad-tempered series.
TRIPLET TIME: Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat and Nikita Kucherov combined for just two shots and no points in Game 1. The Blackhawks did a solid job shutting down the line led by the 5-foot-8 Johnson, who still leads the postseason with 12 goals despite not getting any in the last five games. But after the so-called Triplets combined for 55 points and seven game-winning goals in the Eastern Conference bracket, the top-heavy Lightning expect big things from the youngsters soon. ''They've proven time and time again, they may be kept off the score sheet a game here, a game there, but you're not going to keep them off for long,'' Cooper said. ''Those kids will find a way.''
NO NEW D: The Blackhawks seem unlikely to change their Game 1 lineup despite two possibilities. Defenseman Trevor Van Riemsdyk hasn't played since Nov. 16, but has been practicing with the club this week in anticipation of his NHL playoff debut. Coach Joel Quenneville still doesn't appear ready to promote him into their little-used third defensive pairing, even though Kyle Cumiskey and David Rundblad barely played in the opener.
BICKELL'S HEALTH: Chicago also doesn't appear to be getting Bryan Bickell back in the lineup. The forward is fighting an unclear ailment after apparently getting hurt in Game 7 of the last round in Anaheim, but he claims he passed the NHL's concussion tests. Veteran Kris Versteeg still is likely to take his place again in Game 2.