NBCSN’s coverage of the 2021 Stanley Cup Final continues with Friday’s Game 3 between the Montreal Canadiens and Tampa Bay Lightning. Canadiens-Lightning stream coverage begins at 7 p.m. ET on NBCSN and Peacock. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.
There’s so many elements to the Lightning’s depth.
If the top of the lineup, fueled by Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos, the playoff-clutch Brayden Point, and Vezina finalist Andrei Vasilevskiy are the capitalization at the start of the sentence of the Lightning, Blake Coleman is the punctuation at the end.
The Lightning, already 2020 Stanley Cup champions, are two wins away from going back-to-back. The deadline deal that helped them reach the pinnacle last season is already on pace to do so again heading into Game 3 (8 p.m. ET, NBC; livestream).
The Bolts added Coleman a few days before the NHL trade deadline last season, days before adding Barclay Goodrow as well. The duo combined for the game-winning goal in Game 2 of the 2021 Cup Final, giving them the two-game edge on underdog Montreal.
Trade results aren’t usually so blatantly cut and dry. Two titles in two years would certainly award the Lightning as winners in those deals — if they haven’t been already — especially with the kind of production Coleman has delivered in his less-than two seasons in Tampa Bay.
As Taylor Swift once said, “All along there was some, Invisible string, tying you to me.” That’s what Goodrow and Coleman — on an energy line with Yanni Gourde — feel like in this run. They’ll always be associated together for a few days in February that was destined to make them Cup champions. Now their fates are interwoven on the same line that’s making a repeat a reality.
“The microscope is on you at all times,” Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said following Game 2. “There are guys that rise to the occasion and sometimes there’s guys that don’t. These guys, the moment doesn’t seem to be too big for them.”
Since joining the Lightning, Coleman has produced 32 regular season points. He had just one in his nine regular season games with the Lightning before last season’s pause. He has 22 playoff points in 45 games with the Lightning, though, and that’s where his impact will be remembered.
The buzzer-beater that will forever be a part of the story of this era of the Lightning was created by the two acquisitions who will always be tied together.
“I knew the clock was winding down, but I saw (Goodrow) make that heads-up play in the neutral zone, that little poke past their D,” Coleman said to reporters. “I just tried to do everything I could to give him an option.”
Coleman committed a rough turnover in Game 6 with the Islanders that resulted in the winning goal. The Lightning responded with a Game 7 win and haven’t lost since, but it was the type of moment he could have lost confidence.
Instead, he’s dug deeper to perform the way he did in the Cup run a year ago.
“I told him, ‘don’t you dare lose a night of sleep over your turnover that he felt like cost us that game.’” Cooper told reporters. “I was like, ‘you are one of the straws that stir the drink for this team.’ All he’s done is had a remarkable Game 7 and two remarkable games here. He’s a winner. Turns the page and moves on and delivers, and he did that tonight.”
Coleman a free agent at the end of this season. He’s done a lot to up his value. If the Lightning win another Cup, they certainly won’t mind.
2021 NHL playoff schedule: Stanley Cup Final – (TB leads 2-0) series livestream link
Game 1: Lightning 5, Canadiens 1
Game 2: Lightning 3, Canadiens 1
Game 3: Fri. July 2: Lightning at Canadiens, 8 p.m. ET (NBC / Peacock)
Game 4: Mon. July 5: Lightning at Canadiens, 8 p.m. ET (NBC / Peacock)
*Game 5: Wed. July 7: Canadiens at Lightning, 8 p.m. ET (NBC / Peacock)
*Game 6: Fri. July 9: Lightning at Canadiens, 8 p.m. ET (NBC / Peacock)
*Game 7: Sun. July 11: Canadiens at Lightning, 7 p.m. ET (NBC / Peacock)