NHL playoffs 2019: Lightning face ‘five-alarm fire’ heading to Columbus down 0-2

first_imgThe Tampa Bay Lightning are in an unfamiliar position at the worst possible time.Wielding the NHL’s best regular-season record (62-16), Tampa Bay entered the Stanley Cup playoffs heavily favored against the eighth-seeded Columbus Blue Jackets in the first round. After Friday’s 5-1 loss, Tampa Bay is down 0-2 as the series shifts to Columbus. The Bolts lost two games in a row just three times during the regular season.  NHL PLAYOFFS 2019: Matt Duchene scores goal, adds three assists to lead Blue Jackets to Game 2 victory over Lightning“The regular season is different than the playoffs,” Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said. “Things just happen so fast. Alarms are going off. This is a five-alarm fire. But it’s adversity and sometimes that’s good that you have to go through stuff like this to see how we respond. One thing I do know about being with this group is, they find a way.”The five-alarm fire will need some additional first responders now that Nikita Kucherov, who led the NHL in assists (87) and points (128), will miss Game 3 due to a suspension. Kucherov boarded Blue Jackets’ defender Markus Nutivaara toward the end of Friday’s loss.While a lot of things are against Tampa Bay at the moment, there are several reasons why the team should not be discouraged with Game 3 approaching.Nikita Kucherov could face suspension for his hit on Markus Nutivaara in Tampa Bay’s 5-1 loss to the Blue Jackets: https://t.co/84lzRgsd3a pic.twitter.com/m80qz9G1ut— Sporting News (@sportingnews) April 13, 2019For starters, the Lightning did not lose three games in a row at any point during the regular season. Also, Tampa Bay is in the same position the Washington Capitals were in at this time last season. The Blue Jackets took a 2-0 lead over the Capitals last season before losing four straight games and being eliminated. Bolts defenseman Victor Hedman reportedly brought up that factoid directly to the Columbus bench during Friday’s game, according to broadcaster Pierre McGuire.According to McGuire, Hedman skated over to the #CBJ bench and told them “You guys were up 2-0 last season, how did it end up?” #GoBolts pic.twitter.com/svuPkdCpgX— NHL Prospects Watcher (@Prospects_Watch) April 13, 2019“You guys were up 2-0 last season, how did it end up?” Hedman said.It ended with Washington advancing to the next round and eventually winning the Stanley Cup. Winning the Cup is the ultimate goal but first, the Bolts will need to find consistency on the things that made them a top-tier regular season team.Columbus scored two power play goals just five times during the regular season but only did so once in the season’s final 39 contests, per NHL Network’s Brian Lawton. In the regular season, the Blue Jackets ranked 28th in the league on the power play. Tampa Bay, on the other hand, had the top-ranked power-play unit. Through two games, the Lightning has not scored on five power-play opportunities while the Jackets have converted half of theirs (three of six).“We got to take a page out of their book: go out on the road and win a hockey game,” Lightning captain Steven Stamkos said. “Special teams again has been our Achilles heel the first couple of games and was a strong point [during the regular season].”We’ve got to win the next game. That’s it, there’s no sugar coating it. We didn’t accomplish what we wanted to do at home.”last_img