After scoring just three goals in two losses to the Montreal Canadiens, the Tampa Bay Lightning are “hanging their hat” on the fact they’ve had success against the Habs and Carey Price all season.
Tampa had won eight straight against Montreal prior to Game 4 including five straight regular season wins.
During the regular season Price, who is a finalist for the Vezina, Hart and Ted Lindsay trophies, had a 0-4-1 with 3.47 GAA and .906 save percentage against the Bolts.
“His numbers against the Tampa Bay Lightning are very pedestrian than they are compared to the rest of the teams,” said Jon Cooper on Sunday. “That doesn’t make him any less a goaltender. We’ve just found a way to have some success. In our guys’ mind… are we facing an all-world talent? We are. But we’ve had success in the past, and I think that’s something we’ve been hanging our hat on is we’ve done it in the past and we can do it again.
“That’s kind of been our mindset.”
So what needs to change for the Bolts heading into Game 6 on Tuesday night at Amalie Arena?
“Our Achilles heel the last couple games has been our turnovers, our puck management hasn’t been what we needed it to be, hence we haven’t had the puck as much,” said Cooper. “When you don’t have it as much, you just open you self up for chances to be scored on.”
Cooper also addressed the drop in goal scoring in the postseason.
The Lightning led the league with 3.16 goals per game in the regular season, but have seen that number drop to 2.50 through the first 12 games of the playoffs.
“For 82 games in the regular season, everybody is trying to score, and as soon as the playoffs start, everyone is trying to prevent goals. There’s a huge difference in mentality,” said Cooper. “All of a sudden guys that were probably trying to make that extra little move at the blue line because they’re trying to do something special are now chipping it in. Players adjust their games differently.
“I see guys that are top offensive players that are really paying attention to detail and defense. I think that’s what’s kind of smothered the offensive stats. There’s such a commitment to playing defense now and not as much a commitment to score. Teams know you just need to get one, maybe even two and there’s a really good possibility you’re going to win the game.”