TV: NBC Sports
TIME: 7 p.m. (postgame coverage on FOX Sports Go and FOX Sports Sun)
TAMPA, Fla. — In order to avoid falling in to a hole, the Tampa Bay Lightning know they need to shake off any rust that may have set in after a week of inaction.
The Lightning put forth a strong effort in Game 1, but it has to be stronger and better against the Boston Bruins in Monday’s Game 2, particularly against Boston’s top line, which accounted for 11 points in the series-opening game.
Tampa Bay went about that with an intense practice on Sunday as the coaching staff looks to deliver the message that the opening-game effort was good but not nearly at the level needed to compete in the second round of the playoffs.
“The purpose of our practice was to put us in the best position to be ready to play (Monday) night, and we got to play the game faster, we got to play the game harder,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said.
“Oftentimes a lot of things in your game you develop in practice. We had a week off. We did some good things, but our game was not at a playoff level like the other team that had just played in a Game 7 and that’s what we have to bring (Monday) night or it’s going to be a (short) series for us.”
If Tampa Bay can’t slow down the trio of Patrice Bergeron, David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand, it won’t matter much even if the Lightning do improve in other areas of the ice. The Boston top line has now accounted for 41 points in the postseason, all of those coming in the five playoff wins the Bruins have registered. That line has been kept off the scoreboard in the three Boston losses.
How do the Lightning slow them down?
“You have to be hard on them,” Cooper said. “You have to respect them as a group, but you can’t fear them. You got to see it as a really good challenge. Play hard on them. You make life miserable.
“At the end of the game, you want their players to say, ‘Oh, man. We got to play them again’ and we didn’t make them feel like that. It was more, ‘Man, can’t wait to play those guys again,’ and that’s got to change.”
The Bruins, which opened the first series against Toronto by winning the first two games before going on to win in seven, knows the second victory against the top-seeded Lightning will be no easy task and much harder than the first one.
Boston enters Monday’s game with a clean mindset.
“We’ve got to let it go, let this one go here,” Marchand said. “We’ve got to come back hard on the next one. We know they’re going to come back faster and harder than they did and they played a really good game. They came out fast, they came hard and it was tough to weather that storm early on. So we can expect more of that.”
Getting more solid play from goaltender Tuukka Rask, who stopped 34 shots in the opener, will be a big boost as well.
“I thought that during the second period they gave us a really strong push and we handled it well,” defenseman Zdeno Chara said. “We made some strong defensive plays and obviously Tuukka made some really big saves for us in a crucial time of the game.”