SportsQuest for the Cup


Bolts' Kucherov impacts the game even without scoring goals

Lightning even series vs. Islanders, Game 3 is Thursday
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Posted at 2:59 PM, Jun 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-16 17:47:29-04

TAMPA, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Lightning did what they do best Tuesday night in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Semifinals. The Bolts rebounded with a 4-2 win over the New York Islanders following a loss in Game 1.

“That’s what we pride ourselves in,” Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman said. “After you lose one game, you want to get back at it. This is a good example of a hungry team getting ready to go out and battle.”

The Bolts improved to 11-0 in games following a loss in the past two playoffs.

Including their win in the opening game of the 2020 Playoffs, that coming off their Game 4 loss in the First Round of the 2019 Playoffs, Tampa Bay is 12-0 in its last 12 games after a loss, the longest such run in NHL history.

We can’t just sit here and say we got them in Game 2, we’re going to get them in Game 3,” head coach Jon Cooper said. “Not a chance. Now we got to go do this on the road. You have to take another step forward as hard as it is. You can’t be content with this. If we don’t come out and be better in Game 2, it’s going to be hard for us to win.”

Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov did not score a goal in Tampa Bay’s win in Game 2. Instead, Kucherov recorded his second three-assist game of these playoffs. He set up his teammates with style and flair. That might be the most impressive part of his game.

“He’s an elite player, one of the best in the league,” Hedman said. “He is just so good at finding open ice and so calm with the puck making plays.”

Kucherov leads the NHL this postseason in scoring with 22 points and 17 assists.

“He’s just an unreal player,” Lightning forward Yanni Gourde said. “Every night he shows that. Every night I’m impressed with what he does.”

“He does everything with grace,” Cooper added. “It just looks effortless and I know it’s not. He works at this, he works at what he does extremely well. He sure can make plays out of what looks like nothing he can make something out of it. It’s fun to watch.”

Game 3 of the series is in New York on Thursday at 8 p.m.