TAMPA, Fla. — Blowing a lead to lose Game 1 of the Stanley Cup final didn’t put Tampa Bay Lightning centre Brian Boyle in the best of moods.
“You wake up in the morning today, you should be a little angry, a little pissed off that we had a chance to take Game 1,” Boyle said Thursday. “We shouldn’t have any regrets in the morning when you wake up.”
The Lightning may regret sitting back too much against the Chicago Blackhawks, tendencies that led to two third-period goals by the two-time Cup champions. But being down in a series is nothing new to Tampa Bay, which won twice from that spot already in these playoffs.
Because they were able to come back from series deficits against the Detroit Red Wings and New York Rangers, the Lightning are confident they can rebound for Game 2 of the Cup final Saturday.
“Definitely not something that we’ve had any issues with; we’ve bounced back after a tough game,” captain Steven Stamkos said. “This group has bounced back all season, so I don’t expect anything to change at this time of the year.”
The Lightning should lament not being aggressive enough with a one-goal lead Wednesday. So skilled at dictating the pace, they let the Blackhawks push and then bent and broke.
But their start was strong, and coach Jon Cooper was satisfied with how his team limited chances against for much of the night. One Chicago goal went in through multiple screens and another came off a turnover.
“We’re excited about the fact that we did a lot of positive things,” Stamkos said. “That’s something to build on. This is the two best teams in the league for a reason.”
Tampa Bay managed to shut down Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, specifically by using the top defensive pair of Victor Hedman and Anton Stralman and forwards Ryan Callahan and Cedric Paquette. Chicago’s goals came from third-liners.
The Blackhawks didn’t have too many Grade-A scoring chances, at least until the Lightning started sitting back.
I think we did a good job of keeping them to the outside, clogging the neutral zone,” defenceman Matt Carle said. “You know they’re going to get probably three or four shifts a game where they’re going to get a buzz in the offensive zone. I don’t think we really panicked when they did that.
“We kept them to the outside, let them do their cycle game, force them into mistakes, tried to get the puck out of our zone as much as possible.”
The Lightning have been in this spot before, but not against a team with as much skill as the Blackhawks. That’s why Stamkos said this will be a “different test” than anything before.
All post-season, the Lightning have been passing tests with no problem.
“As these playoffs have gone on, it’s just another learning experience after another learning experience,” Cooper said. “We’re confident in our defensive abilities. We’ve shown it in the playoffs. This team got the better of us last night. We just got to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
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Stephen Whyno, The Canadian Press