The Wraparound: Lightning not ‘sugar coating’ Game 3 focus

The Wraparound is your daily look at the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs. We’ll break down each day’s matchups with the all-important television and live streaming information included. An 0-2 deficit. A road game in Columbus. No Nikita Kucherov, and a “banged up” Victor Hedman.

That’s not an ideal situation for the Presidents’ Trophy winning Tampa Bay Lightning heading into Game 3 Sunday night (7 p.m. ET; ; Live stream). “We’ve got to win the next game,” said Lightning captain Steven Stamkos after Game 2. “That’s it, there’s no sugar coating it.” Jon Cooper dubbed his team’s current predicament as a “five-alarm fire.” To begin, Tampa needs to stop or at least slow the Blue Jacket’s buzzsaw when they get going.

In Game 1, as they begin a comeback down 3-1, Columbus scored three times in less than seven minutes in the third period to complete the upset.

That momentum lingered into Game 2 as they mounted a 3-0 lead within the first 21:28 of the game. When it’s rained, it’s poured. Three of Columbus’ nine goals have come via the power play; add in a Josh Andersonshorty and special teams have been a huge factor for the Blue Jackets. Tampa, meanwhile, is 0-for-5 with the man advantage after boasting a 28.2% success rate during the regular season.

The pressure in this series has never been on the Blue Jackets. It remains with the Lightning as they look to avoid an 0-3 hole. An historic season in Tampa was fun to watch, but it’s Stanley Cup or bust for the franchise following a 62-win regular season where they featured three 40-goal scorers and the likely Hart Trophy winner in Nikita Kucherov. It’s an experience group that Cooper is leading, one that features a number of players with plenty of experience playing deep into the postseason and in Stanley Cup Finals.

They’re not going to allow the pressure to get to them in what will be an electric Nationwide Arena in Game 3. It’s time for a reset and finding a way to get back to the form that brought them so much success through 82 games. “We’re focused on Game 3,” Stamkos said. “There’s nothing we can do anymore, so there’s no sense in pouting right now.

We’ve got to go into a difficult building and find a way to win a game and we’ll go from there.”

 

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