A day after the Tampa Bay Lightning fell 3-2 to Detroit in Game 1 of the Bolts’ First Round series, Lightning head coach Jon Cooper, having had a chance to look over the game video, was still pleased with his team’s effort.
The Lightning had 46 shots to Detroit’s 14 but couldn’t put the puck past rookie goaltender Petr Mrazek, who made a career-high 44 saves to beat the Bolts.
Cooper, however, felt his team could have created more traffic in front of Mrazek’s net to get the 23-year-old goalie out of his comfort zone.
“Part of the problem was we let Mrazek see a lot of (the 46 shots),” Cooper said. “We’ve got to do a better job of that and making it harder for him to find pucks. I didn’t realize we had a few, maybe three wide-open scoring chances, and we didn’t capitalize on them.”
Likewise, Cooper wasn’t too down on the Lightning’s power play despite going 0-for-7 during the game. One of those power plays came with just 13 seconds remaining and two more were abbreviated, each lasting less than 50 seconds.
“It was the old case of we shot when we should have passed, we passed when we should have shot,” Cooper said. “…We had some decent looks, but, I don’t know, it was just weird how we just seemed to, we were zigging when we should have been zagging. I guess in the end, it was a one-goal game and special teams made the difference. They got two special teams goals and we got one.”
Cooper said Tampa Bay’s confidence remains high even though it hasn’t won a playoff game since he’s behind the bench. If the Lightning continue to do the right things on the ice, they’ll eventually be rewarded he said.
“The one thing we talked about is, we’ve lost games like this where we felt we were the better team and lost the game,” Cooper said. “But we’ve also won games the way Detroit has where we weren’t probably the better team in the game but our goalie stood on his head, so what comes around, goes around…If we can put forth that effort every single night, I’m going to take our chances with our team.
Lightning defenseman Jason Garrison is progressing in his rehab to get back out on the ice for the Bolts’ First Round playoff series but won’t be available for Game 2 on Saturday.
“It’s hard to say an exact date,” Garrison answered when asked when he thought he might return. “I think next week is definitely a good goal to have.”
Garrison said he’s made significant progress over the last few days and is able to keep up with the pace of play of practice.
“I’m feeling good. I think every day’s a bit better the next,” he said. “It’s been good. I think I’m on pace for what I was told in the beginning, and over the last few days, I think my strides have been a lot more significant than the first week and a half. I’m feeling good, and hopefully it’s sooner than later.”
Garrison hasn’t played since getting checked hard into the boards by Detroit’s Justin Abdelkader on March 28 and leaving with an upper-body injury. He’s missed the last seven games.
HOME SWEET HOME
Tyler Johnson was impressed with the sellout crowd at Amalie Arena for Thursday’s opening game of the First Round series against Detroit and hopes for another good showing on Saturday.
“I don’t know if I’ve heard the rink that loud before,” Johnson said. “That was really awesome to see. We’ve always thought our fans are…the best fans in the league. Last night, that was definitely stated by the fans’ showing.”