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Lightning unfazed trailing Avalanche in Stanley Cup Final

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DENVER (AP) – Minutes after losing Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals in overtime. Patrick Maroon scoffed at the idea that it was some sort of gut punch for the Tampa Bay Lightning.

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“Two really good teams are working on it,” he said. “This is Game 1. We just need to refocus and be ready for Game 2.”

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Few teams in recent NHL history do it better, so the Lightning don’t worry about falling behind the Colorado Avalanche. The two-time defending champions have won 11 series in a row since their remarkable postseason streak began in 2020; in five of them, Tampa lost the first game — including twice this postseason — and experience has prepared them for such situations.

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“It’s not about riding the wave of one game,” coach John Cooper said Thursday. “It’s kind of about getting our legs under us. This is the understanding that we are playing with another team. We can’t win the whole series in one game and (the players) are really good at it.”

The players wasted no time moving on to the second game on Saturday night. Eventually, Tampa Bay roared back from a 3-1 deficit in the first period and tied the game in the first game. Andre Burakovskyovertime winner. Elements of successful Game 1 stretches may influence future adjustments and changes to the team.

“We’ve done a lot of work on post-loss adjustments, so we’re going to try to do that,” Capt. Stephen Stamkos said. “The mood is that we are here to win the series and you don’t know when it will be: four games, five, six, seven. You will never know.”

The Lightning have won the series in all of these combinations over the past three postseasons. But not so long ago, they found themselves on the wrong side of a stunning defeat.

It’s hard to forget that Tampa Bay beat Columbus in the first round in 2019 after beating the rest of the league all season to win the President’s Trophy with the best overall record. The adjustments, the absence of any panic action such as shooting Cooper or destroying the core, paved the way for this launch.

The memories of that series and the 11 since they ended with them on the smiling side of the handshake line come together to give Lightning the perspective they have today.

‘The great thing about our group is that there aren’t many situations we haven’t been in’ – longtime winger Alex Killorn said. “It seems like we’ve seen it all. We don’t worry. We are confidently moving forward. But, of course, there is still a lot of work to be done.”

This includes trying to figure out how to slow down the speedy Avalanche who wants to turn the games into track and field events and use his offensive talent to score goals. While Colorado hasn’t made it past the second round in the last four years, he also has a lot of playoff experience and knows that you can expect serious opposition from the champions in Game 2.

Coach Jared Bednar thinks the best way to deal with this is to keep playing his style.

“No matter how Tampa plays, we have a certain identity that we need to play with in order to succeed,” Bednar said. “We learned about it, especially during this season. And then for me it’s just managing those fluctuations in momentum.”

Tampa Bay is the first team since Wayne Gretzky’s Edmonton Oilers in the mid-1980s to reach the Finals three years in a row, four wins from their first three league wins since the New York Islanders dynasty. in the early 80s. Cooper managed to contain the emotions of his players so much that the defender Mikhail Sergachev called a 1-0 deficit “common”.

As unusual as it is for Tampa Bay to trail the New York Rangers 2-0 in the last round, the Avalanche present another problem behind their high-profile talent. While the Lightning will need to improve their game, especially how they start, their mentality is now their biggest asset.

“It took us a while to get to that mindset, but we really developed it over the years,” Cooper said. “Hopefully we can get through another series and take another step forward.”


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