NHL

Bellemare pinpoints 'urgency' as Lightning rally from 2-0 series deficit to level Eastern Conference Finals

By Sports Desk June 07, 2022

Veteran Tampa Bay Lightning center Pierre-Edouard Bellemare pointed to the return of urgency as his side levelled the NHL Stanley Cup Eastern Conference Finals after a 4-1 win over the New York Rangers on Tuesday.

The Lightning, chase their third straight Stanley Cup, went down 2-0 in the Conference Finals after the Rangers claimed 6-2 and 3-2 wins in the opening two games at Madison Square Garden.

But Tuesday’s Game 4 win followed Sunday’s 3-2 victory at Amalie Arena, hauling the Lightning back into contention.

"I think the urgency," Bellemare said post-game. "We were not happy about the way we played [in the first two games].

"We’re a team that understand when we’re not good and the coaches have been helping us to be better. I think the last two games have been much better for us."

Bellemare refused to point to the Lightning’s lengthy break between series, having swept the Florida Panthers 4-0 in the second round.

"I don’t want to use that as an excuse for the way we played," Bellemare said.

"I don’t think we were engaged enough. Yes, we were off for nine days, but at the end of the day it’s the Conference Finals.

"This is behind us. It’s 2-2 in the series, so that’s good."

Patrick Maroon had fired in a rebound to earn Tampa Bay an early lead, before Nikita Kucherov found space in the middle from Ondrej Palat’s pass to double their advantage in the second period. The goal was Kucherov’s 21st point this postseason.

Steven Stamkos netted his seventh goal of the playoffs, scoring 4:56 into the third period to make it 3-0, before Artemi Panarin pulled one back with a power play goal, only for Palat to fire into an empty net to close out the win.

The victory was Tampa Bay’s sixth in a row at home in the postseason.

"Obviously it’s a little bit easier in front of our fans," Bellemare said. "We’ve got their energy the whole game and we feed on it.

On the Lightning, Bellemare added: "The locker room is really special. It’s the same from the weakest link all the way to the top of the organisation.

"Everyone is thinking the same and pushing in the same direction. It’s really easy to play here."

Related items

  • No quitters: Bednar won't use Avalanche injuries as an excuse No quitters: Bednar won't use Avalanche injuries as an excuse

    Colorado Avalanche coach Jared Bednar refused to use injury as an excuse after his side were routed 4-0 by the NHL-leading Boston Bruins on Wednesday.

    The short-handed Avs slumped to their third straight loss amid a swathe of injuries that have hit the squad, forcing them to call up Cal Burke, Ben Meyers, Sampo Ranta and Andreas Englund from the Colorado Eagles of the AHL.

    Colorado, who won last season's Stanley Cup, have used a league-high 34 players this season.

    "Listen, if you're quitting, you shouldn't be in the league," Bednar told reporters. "It's a privilege to play in this league.

    "It's not always going to be easy. It's a hard game. That's one. Moral victories? We’re going to take it, and we’re going to teach it.

    "If this group stays the exact same moving forward for the next one game, two games, five games, I expect us to be better the next game.

    "They're going to learn as a group, what it takes to be able to play in this league, what it takes to be able to have success in this league."

    For the Bruins, the win improved their overall record to 21-3-1, with Taylor Hall scoring twice along with David Pastrnak and Trent Frederic adding goals. Goaltender Linus Ullmark stopped 23 shots.

    Boston's 14-game NHL-record home win streak had come to an end on Monday with a 4-3 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights, with coach Jim Montgomery delighted with Wednesday's response at altitude in Denver.

    "Just the response we had after losing the game and ending our [winning] streak at home, we come back and get on the road, and it was a great start to our road trip," Montgomery said.

    "We made some big blocks. I thought Brandon Carlo was outstanding on the penalty kill and made some really smart offensive zone plays, too."

  • Reigning Hart Memorial Trophy winner Matthews hails 'special' performance from Leafs goaltender Reigning Hart Memorial Trophy winner Matthews hails 'special' performance from Leafs goaltender

    Goaltender Matt Murray enjoyed his first shutout as a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs as he saved all 44 of the Dallas Stars' shots in a strong 4-0 win on Tuesday.

    Murray, who spent the past two seasons with the Ottawa Senators, tallied three total shutouts during his time there, and his 44 saves is the most he has had since December 2019 when he was with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

    His best stretch of the game came late in the second period, when the Maple Leafs were tasked with killing a five-on-three power play, knocking away five shots in under a minute to protect their 3-0 lead.

    Auston Matthews, who won last season's Hart Memorial Trophy winner as league MVP, scored the only unassisted goal of the four, and he made sure to credit his goalie for ensuring it was not a nervous ending.

    "I don't know if there's words for [Murray's performance] – that was special," he said. "I thought at the end of the second [period] there, that penalty kill, a lot of credit obviously to 'Murs' for some absolutely incredible saves.

    "He made some unbelievable saves, just special."

    Matthews also gave credit to Mitchell Marner, who dished an assist to become the fourth active player in the NHL to record a 20-game point streak in their career.

    "Echoing what I've been saying for the last two weeks, I guess, but it's been a lot of fun to watch," Matthews said.

    "He's been driving the bus for us. He's going to continue to play, and continue to compete for us, and he's been all over it on both sides of the puck. He's a special guy, a special player."

    Marner made an effort to deflect the praise away from himself, pointing to his teammates as the key to his success.

    "I'm sure like anyone would say, it's not a one-man effort out there," he said. "It's a lot of work from these guys around me, a lot of help from these guys around me.

    "It's been a lot of fun in this streak, because we've been winning games as well, but a lot of kudos to these guys around me helping me make plays. I'm just trying to go out there and buzz.

    "[Murray was] exceptional. He made some massive saves, especially on that [penalty] kill. Throughout the whole game, just working his bag off, making backdoor plays and saves, it was fun to watch."

    With the win, the Maple Leafs now own the third-best record in the Eastern Conference at 16-5-6, while the Dallas Stars remain fourth in the West at 14-7-5.

  • Nashville Predators laud goalie Kevin Lankinen after career-high 48 saves Nashville Predators laud goalie Kevin Lankinen after career-high 48 saves

    Nashville Predators goaltender Kevin Lankinen collected a career-high 48 saves to propel his side to a 4-1 win against the New York Islanders on Friday.

    The Predators took the lead six minutes into the contest, when Filip Forsberg got on the end of a move from Matt Duchene and Roman Josi to capitalise on an early power play.

    That power play unit struck again in the second period, this time with Forsberg and Duchene setting up Josi for the game's second goal. They converted in two of their three total power play opportunities.

    Lankinen kept the Islanders scoreless through the first two periods, but it was his third, where he conceded his only goal, that drew the most praise from his teammates.

    "He's the first star of the game by far," said Duchene. "The first two periods were pretty even, they had a few more shots because of power plays, but it was pretty even, there was no room out there. 

    "Then in the third they threw the kitchen sink at us, and Lankinen stood tall, and we were able to recover on second pucks and rebounds for him. So he was outstanding, and he was our MVP today."

    Forsberg echoed those sentiments, crediting Lankinen with the win.

    "It's the only reason we're having this interview happy," he said. "Obviously, he was unbelievable for us, especially in the third, but even through the whole game. 

    "I don't know how many saves he had in the third, but it was probably 20 almost just in the third period. I mean, we have the two best goalies in the league."

    Lankinen had 21 of his 48 saves in the third period, with head coach John Hynes adding: "Kevin was great – he was really good down the stretch. It's great to see him get rewarded."

    With the win, the Predators improved their record to 12-9-2, while the Islanders are still in a strong position at 15-10-0.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.