Cooper had high praise for Drouin

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TAMPA — Despite playing a team-low 7:52, Jonathan Drouin left his coach decidedly impressed after being inserted into the Lightning lineup for Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final.

“I thought Jo was great,” said Jon Cooper. “He did everything we wanted him to. He took some short shifts, which cut his ice time down a little bit. But he came into that game, and he’s been prepared to play during our run here.”

Drouin had his best moments early on. With a little luck, he might’ve scored on his first shift with linemates Brenden Morrow and Brian Boyle. He finished with two shots on goal. He missed the net on another attempt.

“The adrenaline, all that stuff, he was really fired up,” said Cooper.

But later in the first, the 20-year-old had a turnover in the offensive zone that led to a Chicago scoring chance. And early in the second period, his line was on for a goal against.

“As the game went on, you know, everybody comes back to earth a little bit,” said Cooper. “I thought that line did very well in the first period. Then special teams and things took over. It was harder to get guys out.”

Cooper did not say whether Drouin would play in Chicago. It’s always a different story on the road, where it’s tougher to protect young players who are still, in the coach’s mind, learning that there’s “more than one net in a rink.”

But Drouin made a strong case tonight to remain in the lineup, and in the process gave the entire hockey world a glimpse at why the Lightning used the third overall pick to draft him.