The Tampa Bay Lightning expect a better defensive effort in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Montreal Canadiens.
Tampa Bay allowed 43 shots on goal in a 3-1 win in Game 2 on Wednesday. It’s the most shots the Lightning have allowed during the Stanley Cup Playoffs in a game that hasn’t gone to overtime.
Andrei Vasilevskiy made 42 saves and Tampa Bay took a 2-0 lead in the best-of-7 series.
The Canadiens outshot the Lightning 43-23 and had the advantage in offensive zone time and scoring chances.
“If we let them play they’re going to take advantage of us,” Lightning defenseman Mikhail Sergachev said Thursday. “That’s what we did yesterday. We didn’t play nearly good enough and still found a way to win, but we’ve still got to be better and got to find a way to play a full 60 [minutes] and find our game.”
Game 3 is in Montreal on Friday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS).
The Lightning were without forward Alex Killorn (lower body) in Game 2 and seemed to miss his ability to win puck battles in the corners that would lead to clearing the zone easier. Killorn will travel to Montreal but his availability for Game 3 is unknown.
Lightning coach Jon Cooper said he expects the Canadiens to make the kind of push they did in Game 2 and believes they will continue to increase their effort as the series goes on.
“We’re playing a really good team,” Cooper said. “Our team game, we know we can be better. And if anybody has watched us play, you know we can be better. But again, and I said this last night, part of it was what Montreal was doing. They have a say in how we’re playing. You win the first game and you expect a push from the other team and we got it.”
With the series shifting to Montreal for the next two games, Sergachev said the Lightning defensemen need better puck management and fewer mistakes in the defensive zone. The Lightning are 6-3 away from home during the playoffs.
“There’s a lot of work to do,” Sergachev said. “We can’t be turning the puck over like that … can’t be playing defense like that. Everybody has got to be better, so next game we’re expecting a different team.”
Cooper said the Lightning’s playoff experience comes through during these moments and they have learned to find ways to win even when they aren’t playing their best.
“It’s hard to play perfect hockey every single night,” he said. “There are nights you’re going to be off or the puck is not going to go your way. It’s how you adapt to that or how you fight through that. When some guys were fighting it a little bit they found different ways to contribute and that’s what we needed for the win and we got it.”