Second Period Stymies Lightning as Florida Takes 3-0 Lead

by | Apr 27, 2024

Second Period Stymies Lightning as Florida Takes 3-0 Lead

by | Apr 27, 2024

The Florida Panthers were one of the top defensive teams in the NHL this season and that characterization has allowed Florida to come within one game of advancing past Tampa Bay in the NHL playoffs after Thursday night’s 5-3 win over the Lightning in Amalie Arena.

Tampa Bay’s power play, which led the NHL at a 28.5 percent clip this season, has been stymied in the series. That idea was prevalent as the Lightning had 10 power play minutes and the Florida penalty kill was at a very high level in putting the Bolts on the brink of elimination.

Florida’s PK was sixth in the NHL and stopped 82.5 percent of opponents’ power plays during the season.

This is the first time the Lightning have been down 3-0 in a series since the dynastic seasons began with the initial Stanley Cup championship in 2019-20.

“You get into a series like this and you are bouncing around to different penalty kills, they’re going to have a say in what’s going on too,” commented Lightning coach Jon Cooper. “Some of it is on us, it’s on our executions. We haven’t been as sharp on the power play as we have been.”

A flash of Lightning allowed Tampa Bay to take the first lead of the series at 2-1 lead in game three when Steven Stamkos scored with immediacy on a stickleback, just 46 seconds into the second period.

Then, Tyler Motte skated from behind the net, turned forward, and fired a one-timer from around the slot for a 2-1 Lightning lead at 2:46 into the second period.

From there, the Lightning had some turnovers and missed some solid shot opportunities. That seemed to allow the Panthers to stay in the game down one goal, and scratch when they had an opportunity.

Panthers forward Sam Reinhart tied the game at 2-2 at 9:58. Then Brandon Montour gave Florida the lead for good at 3-2, when he fired a one-timer just inside the blue liner past Vasilevskiy as the Panthers retook the lead.

It was tough to come out of that second period down a goal,” analyzed Cooper. “ I thought we deserved a better fate. They weren’t in our end much and when they were, a couple of seeing eye singles went through the net. Don’t get me wrong. Two good players shooting pucks.”

Florida goalie Sergei Brobovsky once again played at a high level for the Panthers as he was the stopper behind a fast and physical defense that perpetrated it’s abilities all season. Bobrovsky stopped 26 shots.

“Probably on those two guys, wrong sticks at the wrong time then,” said Cooper. “If you look back at it the kind of shots that we didn’t score on in that period, that’s what made it a little difficult.”

Another turning point for the Panthers came at the 19:43 mark of the first period when Nick Cirelli had apparently tied the game at 1-1. The goal was disallowed on video replay as Tampa Bay had a player just offsides on the shift.

“Ultimately, we did score a power play goal and we toe-picked at the blue line and it took us offsides,” explained Cooper. “ It’s little things in the game like that, you know didn’t go our way and that’s the tough part because it would have been the goal that we needed and it didn’t count.”

Cooper Talks of Greatness of former NHL Announcer Bob Cole:

Tampa Bay coach John Cooper received the news of the April 24 death of former NHL announcer Bob Cole.

Cooper talked of Cole’s legendary status as he helped to take the NHL to its high levels behind the mic.

“He’s the Wayne Gretzky of announcers,” said Cooper. “My passion for this game is built on what Bob Cole said and every night watching Hockey Night in Canada. I’d turn that thing on at 5 o’clock just to hear his voice.”

Cooper discussed meeting Cole in a press box in Montreal in 2018.

“He was such a wonderful man and then in the sacred grounds of the Bell Centre in Montreal, after a pregame skate, it was just the two of us,” remembered Cooper.

The Lightning coach remembered that evening in his life and career as he offered condolences to his family and friends.

“He took me upstairs in the gondola where he called the game and I got to put a headset on where he called games,” stated Cooper. “It was one of the coolest moments I have ever had in my life, to stand there with him.”

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