Steven Stamkos said it was, “probably the craziest playoff period you’ll see the rest of the way.”
Jon Cooper agreed, likening it to the Hulk roller coaster at Universal Orlando.
“That was chaotic, it was a fucking circus out there,” Lightning’s trainer smiled. “But, there are definitely no refunds after that. Take off your coach hat, it was an incredibly entertaining second period. “
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In a series of tight controls against Carolina, in which both teams have repeatedly lamented how little space there is to make plays, it suddenly became a hockey fan’s dream.
Eight goals in a single period, the first time in 11 years that an NHL playoff game has seen something like this.
Four from the Hurricanes and four from host Bolts.
How wonderful that a fairly crowded stadium by the bay was able to experience it live.
Indeed, the noisy reunion probably did well to fuel the madness, as the hosts rallied from a 4-2 deficit with four unanswered goals in the 6-4 victory.
In a series that featured just 11 goals in the previous three games, few could have predicted the turn of events, especially since Cooper and Co. won the Stanley Cup a year earlier by making a concerted effort to avoid such red lighting. rampant.
As Tyler Johnson put it, “It’s not our bread and butter, it’s not what our team preaches. We have to be better defensively. “
Okay, we get it, the defense wins championships.
But in a team led by Nikita Kucherov, Brayden Point and Stamkos (who combined for five goals and eight points) we had to ask Cooper if we are really supposed to believe that he would rather have his team avoid the weird pond hockey production.
“There was a time when we were the best show on ice a few years ago, and many times they ended in disappointing playoffs,” explained the coach. “Probably the reason we have been successful in the last two years is that the team has this ability to win in different ways. If you want to participate in a shootout, we have a group that can do it that way. But it is not ideal. We really have this true belief that it is what you keep out of your network and not how much you put into the other network. We try to live up to that.
“Does it always go according to plan? No. But if you want to go far, it is just the mindset you must have. If you’re defending and passing, eventually your skill will take over at some point and we’ve been lucky in the last two springs we’ve been able to get through, be it in a tight control game or in the high-flying and scoring game. “
Point’s first hit marked the first time in the series that a team scored in the opening frame.
Early in the second, Teuvo Teravainen and Jesper Fast scored 39 seconds apart for the ‘Canes before Stamkos and Dougie Hamilton exchanged goals midway.
Jaccob Slavin’s snipe gave Carolina a two-goal cushion that seemed to have turned the series around, with lightning heading into the possibility of seeing the series tied 2-2.
Then a funny thing happened: Rod Brind’Amour’s guys forgot the golden rule when they faced Tampa.
Do not accept sanctions.
In total, the visitors took five in the period, including several baddies.
Kucherov’s jab with Jake Bean in the area ignited the crowd and the bench, as part of a three-point effort by the playoff leading scorer, whose club finished the night 3-for-6 on a power play that now operates to 41 percent this spring. .
A job on the roof of luxury fourth row Johnson was followed by another power play goal from Stamkos before the second period ended with the hosts up 5-4.
“To be honest, he may have taken over the game,” Cooper said of Kucherov, whose goal early in the third period gave the Lightning absolute dominance in the 3-1 series.
“There was a point in the second period where we clearly lost control and one of his guys hit him hard and he just channeled all his energy in the right way. It was a 5v5 turn and he was a beast out there. Then we had our power play opportunities and he was just making plays all over the place. I thought he might have been the best player on the ice tonight, and when Kuch is doing some of the things he was doing tonight, he’s almost unstoppable.
“It was great to see him do what he did tonight because we definitely needed him.”
What Carolina needed was some goalkeeping, as Game 3 hero Petr Mrazek definitely played like he had only had one start in nearly a month, stopping just 20 of 26 shots.
Rookie sensation Alex Nedeljkovic is expected to start Game 5 in Raleigh on Tuesday.
And hope that discipline is top of mind for the Hurricanes, or this series ends at five.