TAMPA, Fla. – No surprise the series between the Lightning and Maple Leafs has been reduced to a best-of-five. Perhaps somewhat surprising is how the teams arrived at this point.
The Bolts opened with a 7-3 win and, in a Game 2 that played out much like Game 1, only with the script flipped, Toronto cruised to a 7-2 victory.
It should be noted that three of the first four games between the teams in last year’s opening round were decided by three or more goals. The last three games were one-goal affairs.
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“As series move on, the score gets tighter,” said coach Jon Cooper, following Game 2. “I think (Games 1 and 2) mirrored each other. It’s a funny game, and that’s why we love the game.”
Lightning fans will be loving things if their team bounces back at Amalie Arena on Saturday night. The next two games will be in the friendly confines where Tampa Bay won two of three in last year’s series, including Game 6 in overtime to set up the winner-take-all match in Toronto.
The Lightning, who played without defensemen Victor Hedman and Erik Cernak in Game 2, actually had seven of the game’s first eight shots on goal Thursday. Problem was, Mitch Marner’s power play goal came on the first shot on goal of the game. The Lightning ultimately found themselves trailing 3-0 at the end of 20 minutes, exactly the opposite of Game 1.
Again, the series is now a best-of-five, and what happened in the first two games at Scotiabank Arena is in the books.
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“We wanted to take a game here, and we did,” said Steven Stamkos, after Game 2. “We have been through a lot. It is not a rollercoaster of a series. It’s managing emotions. Come back home, and now it is our turn to have a response game. We need a much more detailed effort next game.”
Saturday’s Game 3 is 7:00, and Game 4 on Monday is 7:30.
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