TAMPA, Fla. — The trade deadline brought together a new third line for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Brandon Hagel and Nick Paul joined Ross Colton on the third unit.
And in the playoffs, the trio has hit their stride. They have combined for seven points through four games in the first-round series against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
In Game 4, Colton scored two goals, Hagel picked up a pair of assists and even sacrificed his body by blocking a shot late in the second period on a Toronto power play.
“He’s been awesome. Him, me and Pally have been getting some chemistry going. He does so many little things right, maybe stuff that doesn’t come up on the score sheet,” Colton said. “The amount of times he is using his legs and beating out icings, that goes a long way. We’re not taking D zone face-offs. That blocked shot was huge, that sticks out. There are so many things in this game he does the right way.”
Colton is also making a habit of showing up in big moments. During his rookie season, he scored the Stanley Cup-clinching goal over Montreal last season. Now, he leads the team with three playoff goals.
“I look at Ross as a gamer,” Lightning forward Pat Maroon said. “He shows up in big times, big moments. Ross is a heck of a player, he had a heck of a season this year.”
“I think it’s just the energy in the building,” Colton said. “You play such a long season, it’s grueling, tough on the body and mind. You go through all that sacrifice and you block those shots, do the extra work for times like this. Growing up, watching playoff hockey, there is a different kind of energy that I’ve always wanted to be a part of. Now I get super-excited even more to do whatever I can help the team win.”
Game 5 shifts to Toronto on Tuesday night. The key to this series has been getting off to a good start. In each game, the team that scored first has won the game.
“We need everyone in the postseason, all four lines, you can’t just rely on your all-stars all the time,” Maroon said.