The Tampa Bay Lightning have been perfect in Game 2s during their current playoff run, going 3-0 with two of the wins coming on the road.
The Lightning hope to continue that streak into Saturday’s Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Chicago Blackhawks. Puck drop is set for 7:15 p.m. at Amalie Arena.
“Just learning from our mistakes, I think that’s the biggest thing,” Lightning defenseman Jason Garrison said when asked why the Bolts have played so well in Game 2s. “We do a good job of that and kind of breaking down the game a bit and seeing where we can improve. Whatever that might be, going out the next game and fulfilling that, it seems to work out for us in the past.”
Fellow defenseman Victor Hedman offered a more pointed answer when queried about the Lightning’s Game 2 success.
“We lost Game 1 three out of four times,” he said. “We’re a resilient group. We have great character in this room. We want to bounce back from a tough loss, so that’s probably why we have a great record in Game 2. Hopefully we can keep that going tomorrow.”
The Lightning have responded well following losses all season. In the playoffs, the Bolts are 7-1 in the game after defeat. During the regular season, the Lightning were the only NHL team not to lose three-consecutive games.
“All year we’ve been a good bounce-back team after losses, and I think we’ve done that in the playoffs too,” Ryan Callahan said.
Lightning forward Alex Killorn said he was just trying to get his stick on the puck when he scored an amazing, backhanded, behind-the-back tip goal for the Bolts’ only score in Game 1.
Instead, the timely redirect might be the highlight of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
“Probably the best goal I’ve ever scored,” Killorn said.
Killorn reasoned if were given 100 opportunities to replicate Wednesday’s miracle goal, he could accomplish the feat again “once, maybe twice.”
“The puck wasn’t coming at me very quick,” he said. “It was kind of floating. I just kind of swatted at it. You never know whether you’re going to hit it or if it’s going to go in the net. You hope, so that was pretty fortunate it went in.”
Killorn said he works on tips and redirects in practice and has scored similar goals during training but only with his forehand, not the backhanded effort that made his Game 1 score so spectacular.
“You’ll play with the puck (in practice) and just work on hand-eye,” he said. “In that certain situation, it would be tough to even replicate a puck to come at you like that.”
Once Killorn got his blade on the puck, he bounced it down on the ice and over the left leg blocker of Chicago goalie Corey Crawford and into the goal at the near post.
“To be honest, I’m just trying to get it toward the net,” Killorn said. “Obviously, best case scenario, it goes in. I’m not really expecting to score. The goalie, it’s tough because he’s not expecting me to hit it there. I don’t think he’s committing to put a shot on net, so I was pretty fortunate.”
The Lightning returned to the rink Friday in preparation for Game 2 after having Thursday off.
Garrison said it’s odd to have an extra day off so early in the series, but it was certainly welcome.
“It’s probably good for the body and I think it’s good mentally too,” he said. “You get an extra day to kind of refocus. Sometimes it’s nice to kind of get back out again and lose sight of that other game. It’s the playoffs. As soon as that game’s done, win or loss, you’ve got to move forward. I think it’s no different.”
Cooper said he’d just as soon his team play immediately after Game 1 considering the game’s unfortunate outcome for the Lightning.
“The extra day is not ideal for us because I think if we had our choice, we would have just dropped the puck at 11:30 that night and let’s play again,” Cooper said. “But, there’s something to be said about sitting back, taking a breath. It’s our first Stanley Cup Final. The media, the media day and all that stuff, we got through Game 1, and it wasn’t so bad to be honest.”
Killorn said the Lightning had a lot of energy during the training session, which didn’t involve a lot of tactical changes. Tampa Bay was pleased with its overall effort in Game 1, save for an unfortunate stretch in the final period when they allowed two goals in less than two minutes.
“You look at their goals, they made good plays,” Killorn said. “I don’t think it was incredible breakdowns by us. I think it was just one of those things where a puck hops over a stick or a seeing-eye shot. There’s not too much we want to change. We think they had a lot of possession in the third period, and we want to limit that. Some things will change in that sense.”