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The Lightning are the two-time reigning Stanley Cup champions, having won during the 2019-20 season hit by the coronavirus against the Montreal Canadians and then last year against the Dallas stars. At the time, the Lightning only faced elimination in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the New York Islanders last year
Tampa Bay manager Jon Cooper, who has been with the team since taking over from Guy Boucher midway through the 2012-23 season, acknowledged that he let the Maple Leafs exploit their mistakes too many times.
“When I say we gave away the game, I am saying that we gave Toronto opportunities to capitalize and, to Toronto’s credit, they capitalized on them,” he said, via the Tampa Bay Times. “We’re burning up for some of the things we’re doing instead of making them the hard way – where they’re just beating us at our own game – and so it’s probably a little frustrating. Maybe in years past, other teams just haven’t. capitalized when we failed, so it didn’t. “
In their defeats, the Lightning allowed the Maple Leafs to get off to a good start with their first-quarter goals. It was only in Game 5 that Tampa Bay scored two goals in the first period, but allowed three in the third to lose 4-3.
That will have to change in Game 6 if Tampa Bay is to live another day.
In Game 7 last year against the Islands, the Lightning won 1-0 behind Yanni Gourde’s short goal in the second period and Andrei Vasilevskiy’s 18 saves.
According to NHL.com, Tampa Bay is 17-0 in games after a defeat in the last three post-seasons. The Lightning have a +35 goal differential in those wins.
Game 6 will be at the Amway Arena on Thursday night. The disc drops at 7:30 PM ET.
The Lightning will have to strike twice to continue their playoff run.