LAS VEGAS (AP) - The Tampa Bay Lightning and Vegas Golden Knights were favored to win their second-round matchups.
After losses Saturday, the Lightning and Golden Knights will be happy just to reclaim home-ice advantage.
Hours after Boston beat Tampa Bay 6-2 to take a 1-0 series lead Saturday, the Sharks handed Vegas its first postseason loss in six games with a 4-3 double-overtime victory.
Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper and Vegas coach Gerard Gallant said it was their teams’ worst performances of the postseason.
“I didn’t like the game we played, that was the main thing,” Gallant said Sunday before he and the Golden Knights left for San Jose. “Not just losing in overtime, but I didn’t like the game that we played the first 40 minutes.”
And while the Lightning enjoyed six days off after eliminating New Jersey in five games, it was Boston that looked sharper after winning an emotional Game 7 at home against Toronto three nights prior.
Cooper put the Lightning through an intense, high-tempo practice Sunday in hopes of setting the tone for a more spirited performance in Game 2, after his team played with less intensity than in any of its first-round games against New Jersey.
“The purpose of our practice was to put us in the best position to be ready to play (Monday night),” Cooper said. “Often times a lot of things in your game you develop in practice. We had a week off. We did some good things, but our game was not at a playoff level like the other team that had just played in a Game 7, and that’s what we have to bring (Monday night) or it’s going to be a long series for us.”
Boston’s top line of Brad Marchand (one goal, three assists) David Pastrnak (four assists) and Patrice Bergeron (two goals, one assist) combined for 11 points, a huge contrast from Tampa Bay’s top line of Nikita Kucherov, Steven Stamkos and J.T. Miller, which went scoreless in Game 1.
“With every round, you have to elevate your game, your intensity, everything, and we didn’t,” Cooper said. “We took a step back. A really good team showed us what happens when you do that.”
Much of the same can be said for Vegas, which looked nothing like the team that opened its second-round series with a 7-0 shellacking of San Jose. Instead of the team that looked crisp with every pass, and sharp with every shot on goal, the Golden Knights were undisciplined and sloppy through the first 40 minutes.
“We got a little too confident after Game 1, we came out a little slow in Game 2 and we just have to fix that and focus on a good start for Game 3,” Golden Knights defenseman Shea Theodore said. “We can’t take those kinds of penalties. When you’re in the box for a good portion of the night it’s not going to go good. It kind of bit us in the ass.”
The Golden Knights, who surpassed its season-high 13 penalties in minutes with 22 PIM, found themselves in the box more than San Jose, 11-6.
Vegas is used to rolling four lines and three pairs of defensemen. Saturday the schematics changed with them spending more than a period in the penalty box collectively. And while Gallant admitted he didn’t like some of the calls against his team, or some of what he felt were missed calls, he also said his players brought a lot of it on themselves.
“I thought we had a couple of opportunities for power plays, we didn’t get them,” Gallant said. “I don’t want our guys in the penalty box, I don’t want my top guys in the penalty box wrestling. (David) Perron took six minutes in penalties last night, (Jonathan) Marchessault’s sitting in there for roughing. You play hard, you get penalties - that’s fine. You don’t waste your time with after-the-whistle activities.”
BOUNCE BACK STRONG
Tampa Bay and Vegas have shown resiliency after a setback, as the Lightning are 19-8 following a loss, while the Golden Knights are 20-10-1.
“We know they’re going to come back faster and harder than they did, and they played a really good game (Saturday),” Marchand said of the Lightning. “They came out fast, they came hard and it was tough to weather that storm early on. So, we can expect more of that.”
San Jose’s Brent Burns, who had two goals on Saturday, said the Sharks fixed what they needed to for Game 2, but the win meant nothing more than tying the series and it’s now just a best-of-five, not seven, against a Vegas team that will be looking for revenge.
“It’s just one game,” Burns said. “Obviously we had to win it, but it’s one game, so.”
FLURRY ON FLEURY
After allowing just three goals through the first five games, Vegas netminder Marc-Andre Fleury allowed three in the second period alone on Saturday. His shutout in Game 1 was his third of the postseason, but the Sharks peppered him throughout Game 2, outshooting the Golden Knights, 47-29.
The 14-year veteran said the lack of discipline, and even his own mistakes, are nothing to dwell on if the Golden Knights want to steal back home-ice advantage.
“We have a good bunch of guys, we’ve been through a lot together this year,” Fleury said Sunday. “You win 7-0 or you lose like last night, you always got to start fresh every night. I think we’ve been doing that, for the first round and the first game of San Jose. Every game is a new start, you got to start from scratch and try to win that one.”
AP Sports Writer Fred Goodall in Tampa, Florida, contributed to this report.
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