Passive play on their home ice puts the Tampa Bay Lightning in a must-win situation entering the third game of the Eastern Conference finals against the Washington Capitals.
Washington scored twice in the final 62 seconds of the second period in Game 2 on Sunday, staking the Capitals to a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.
“These past couple of games, we haven’t defended with the same sense of urgency, and (we’re) really hanging our goalie out to dry,” said Lightning center Steven Stamkos. “They had a lot of quality chances. You can’t do that this time of the year.”
Tampa Bay’s Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 31 shots on Sunday.
“We just played tentative and a little bit slow. We didn’t get 113 points by playing that way. We didn’t win the first two rounds by playing that way. These first two games, that’s the way we’ve played,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “By no means am I sitting here saying, ‘Oh, it’s all us, not them.’ They’ve got a really good team, they’re feeling it, playing with some confidence right now. It’s a little surprising for us that we’re not because we sure had confidence coming into Jersey, we had confidence coming into Boston, and right now we’re just not making the plays we need to make.”
Stamkos scored a power-play goal in Game 2, but the Capitals are killing the Lightning when both sides are at even strength. Washington heads home with a 7-1 edge in 5-on-5 scoring in this series.
“We’re a lot of one-and-dones,” Cooper said. “So give them credit: Once that first shot gets through, it doesn’t seem that we’re getting that second chance that we like. We’re getting a little bit of zone time, but either we’re passing when we should shoot or shooting when we should pass. But ultimately, we’re turning the puck over too much, something we didn’t do the first two rounds. When you do that, it’s hard to generate anything. Your guys are going one way, and now all of a sudden they’re coming back at you. That’s been our issue.”
—Field Level Media