Bolts brush off talk of ‘must-win’ Game 2

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TAMPA — The Lightning aren’t biting.

One day after a disappointing loss in the Stanley Cup Final opener, Tampa Bay faced the big question — after blowing a third-period lead and relinquishing home-ice advantage to Chicago, is Saturday’s Game 2 a must-win?

The answer, unequivocally:

No.

“There’s no real must-win until you lose three games of a series,” captain Steve Stamkos said. “We’re confident in our ability to bounce back after a loss.”

The Lightning should be confident, given their experience in that department. The club lost its first game of these playoffs — Game 1 of the Detroit series — then bounced back with a 5-1 blowout win in Game 2. In the Eastern Conference Final against the Rangers, the Bolts dropped the opener, then rebounded with a 6-2 thumping.

Sensing a theme here?

Ryan Callahan, one of the more veteran playoff skaters on the team, further deflected the notion of Saturday being a must-win.

“I don’t think there’s ‘must-win’ unless you’re facing elimination,” he explained. “We put a lot of pressure on ourselves to try and win every playoff game. That’s how you approach the game. You want to win it.”

Tampa’s ace in the hole, so to speak, is their ability to win on the road this spring. It’s a big reason why the players seemed generally unfazed at possibly heading back to Chicago down 0-2 in the series. The Bolts are road warriors — they won two games in Detroit, two games in Montreal and three in New York, including the first-ever Game 7 road victory in MSG history.

“We’re pretty confident in our road game,” defenseman Matt Carle said. “We’ve shown that a lot throughout the playoffs.

“When we’ve needed to have a must-win on the road, we’ve managed to pull it out. So I don’t think it really adds any pressure to tomorrow.”