SportsQuest for the Cup


Lightning face must-win Game 6 on Thursday night

Tampa Bay trails its first-round series 3-2 vs. Toronto
Maple Leafs Lightning Hockey
Posted at 11:55 AM, May 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-12 17:28:03-04

TAMPA, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Lightning are 16-0 during their run back-to-back Stanley Cup titles dating back to the beginning of the 2020 playoffs. But this is new territory for Tampa Bay.

The Bolts are staring down postseason elimination for only the second time in the past two years.

“We haven’t been in this situation too many times, last we played the Islanders in Game 7,” Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman said. “It’s something we’ve responded well to.”

“What was the tell-tale sign of that elimination game, we didn’t give up any goals,” head coach Jon Cooper added. “Not saying we have to do that again, that has to be the mindset of ours. At times (Tuesday night) it got away from us.”

The Lightning went into the third period of Tuesday’s Game 5 just 20 minutes away from taking control of their first-round series with the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Lightning jumped out to a 2-0 first-period lead with goals from Stamkos and Hedman.

But Toronto, a team that has not won a first-round series since 2004, scored three goals in the third period.

“In order to win this time of year, you have to play a full game,” captain Steven Stamkos said. “Unfortunately, we didn’t. We played a hell of a first period. We couldn’t replicate that the rest of the game.”

“We let this one slip away,” Cooper said. “That’s on us. But we haven’t let the series slip away. We let a game slip away. That’s how you look at it.”

Trailing 3-2 in the series, the Lightning face a must-win Game 6 on home ice Thursday night.

“We’re going to re-group here,” Stamkos said. “We knew it was going to be a tough series. Those guys are good over there. But we have a group that has responded well to these situations for a long period of time. We know what to expect heading home. We’ll be ready.”

No team in this series has strung together two wins in a row. The Lightning hopes that trend continues, at least for Game 6.