Connect with us


Staying Alive A Matter of Pride for Lightning

Scrum Sports phot by Wayne Masut

The backs of the Tampa Bay Lightning were against the wall today. Down 3 games to none to the Florida Panthers. They must play today in Game 4 like there’s no tomorrow because if they lose today, there is no tomorrow. As a team, they received their marching orders from Coach Jon Cooper. He told them after their Game 3 loss, “don’t show up if you don’t believe”. If they are going to extend their season, the Lightning have to win. It’s as simple as that. They need to think about the Bee Gees. Staying alive, staying alive. Win and you play Game 5 on Monday. Lose, and you’ll be setting tee times for Monday.

One Lightning player who believes is Mikhail Sergachev. He heard the clarion call from his coach and suited up to play today. He’s been out with a broken leg that occurred 80 days ago. Most of us thought we wouldn’t see him until next season. Then we began seeing him in a non-contact sweater the last couple weeks at practice. Even with this, Cooper said we wouldn’t see him in the first round. Facing the end of your season changes your perspective. Clearly, Sergachev believes.

Do Or Die

For the first three games of this series, the Panthers set the tempo. They scored the game’s first goals in each of those three games. Not today. Showing that they have no intention of just laying down, the Lightning set the tempo. The Amalie faithful did their part. All 19,092 seemed to take heed to Cooper’s warning because they sure sounded like they believed.

Just after the game was eight minutes old, the Panthers gave the Lightning a power play chance. Captain Steven Stamkos slapped the puck past Sergei Bobrovsky to net the game’s first goal.

Three minutes after the opening goal, the Lightning were killing a Tyler Motte penalty. After getting the power play goal, the Lightning now scored a shorty. Brandon Hagel got a short handed beauty past Bobrovsky to make it 2 – 0.

Ah Ah Ah Ah Staying Alive

The Lightning play so far in this opening period was making believers of us all. Keeping their foot on the gas, they scored again. Three minutes after the power play Stamkos goal, they scored the Hagel short-handed goal. Three minutes after the Hagel shorty, they scored an even strength goal. Brayden Point was a blur skating up the right side of the ice. No Panther could keep up with him. Point executed a beautiful wrap around goal past an out of position Bobrovsky to make the score 3 – 0. This is how the first period ended. The barn was rocking, the Panthers were shaking their heads and Cooper’s boys were the personification of belief.

Four minutes into the second period, the Panthers got on the board. Former Lightning Carter Verhaeghe snapped a shot past Andrei Vasilevskiy to make it a 3 – 1 Lightning lead. The Lightning had an answer. Hagel scored his second goal of the game giving the Lightning back their three goal lead. In the second half of the middle period, the Panthers scored two goals to end the period with the Lightning staying alive by the thinnest of margins, 4 – 3.

Be The Belief

Most people say “I’ll believe it when I see it”. I have always subscribed to this: If I believe it, I will see it. Clearly, believing their success in this game was a requirement from their coach. Cooper knows if they believe in their ability to win, they will see the victory. As the final period begins, this mindset will be tested. 

As expected the Panthers weren’t going to give this one to the Lightning. By the same token, the Lightning weren’t ready to just sit on their one goal lead. Both teams came out ready for bear. There was a frenetic pace that didn’t let up. It came down to this: If the Panthers score first in this period, that could spell doom for the home team. If the Lightning score, they open a two goal lead and the collective belief takes hold. 

Finally as the period was approaching the halfway point, Stamkos wristed the puck past Bobrovsky. Just outside his office on the left dot, Stamkos made the score 5 – 3. Just believe, baby!

Live to Play Another Day

As the game was winding down, the Lightning enjoying their two goal cushion, the Panthers began getting a little chippy. Their undisciplined play led to a 5 on 3 power play for the Lightning. Brandon Montour cross checked Nikita Kucherov in the head from behind for the two man advantage. Nick Paul took a pass from Kucherov and lifted the puck past Bobrovsky to give the Lightning a 6 – 3 lead.

Being playoff hockey, the players started to see what they could get away with without getting a whistle. Most of the liberties were taken by the Panthers. Clearly, the mutual hatred from each team towards the other is growing. Good thing the Lightning stayed alive to feel that for Game 5.

Three Stars 

  1. Steven Stamkos – 2 goals including the back breaker in the third period.
  2. Brandon Hagel – 2 goals and 1 assist and was flying all over the ice.
  3. Brayden Point – 1 goal and 2 assists.

What’s Next 

Game 5 Monday night in Sunrise puck drops at 7:00 pm.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *