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."

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