VegasInsider.com
VI Mobile Scores and Betting OddsVI Mobile Scores and Betting Odds Be Social
Home
NFL
NBA
NHL
MLB
NCAA FB
NCAA BK
Auto
Golf
Horses
More
Betting Tools

 
Lightning eye bounce-back performance

BRANDON, Fla. (AP) Jon Cooper is confident the Tampa Bay Lightning will be fine.

Advertisement

Experience tells the coach and his players they shouldn't be overly concerned about losing the opening game of the Eastern Conference finals at home.

The way the Washington Capitals are playing, though, it could be more difficult to rebound from a shabby performance this time.

Game 2 is Sunday night, and Cooper expects the Atlantic Division winners to be at their best.

''It's unfortunate how we played a couple of these Game 1s in the last couple of rounds, (and) dug ourselves a small hole this series,'' the coach said after a workout Saturday at the team's suburban practice facility.

''I guess the positive side is we've been here before, so we've seen this. But we can't keep playing with fire and dropping these Game 1s, which we've done. All of a sudden you've thrown home ice advantage back at them. Now you've put pressure on yourself. You got to go win games on the road, which you have to do anyway in the playoffs, but your margin for error gets smaller and smaller. We're really going to need a good effort (Sunday).''

The Capitals won the opener 4-2, ending an eight-game playoff losing skid to Tampa Bay dating to the 2003 postseason.

Alex Ovechkin, T.J. Oshie, Jay Beagle and Lars Eller scored for Washington, while rejuvenated goaltender Braden Holtby stopped 19 shots to help the Caps improve to 6-1 on the road this postseason.

The Lightning didn't take solace in breaking through for a pair of third-period goals.

''We dissected the game a little bit,'' Cooper said. ''There were so many good things we've done in two rounds of hockey that I think if you bottled up all the bad things in those first 10 games it would be about half of what we did in that one game last night.

''You fueled the fire of a good team, and that's what Washington is. I thought a lot of their opportunities we just handed to them, and a lot of our opportunities were stomped out just by our not sticking to our plan of what's worked.''

The Capitals, in the conference finals for the first time in the Ovechkin era, said they can't afford a drop-off in performance.

Beating two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh gave them momentum heading into the series.

Coach Barry Trotz, mindful that Tampa Bay lost Game 1 of its second-round series 6-2 to Boston only to strom back and win four straight games, reiterated it won't be easy to build off the Caps' success in the opener.

''You get a little bit of confidence, obviously,'' Trotz said at the team hotel Saturday. ''At the same time we've got to realize Tampa Bay is going to have some desperation in their game. And, we better have some desperation in our game.''

Andrei Vasilevskiy, Tampa Bay's All-Star goaltender, yielded four goals on 25 shots in two periods after entering the series with an 8-2 record, 2.20 goals-against average and .927 save percentage through two rounds.

The Lightning are confident they'll play better in front of him in Game 2. The Caps expect the goaltender to bounce back, too.

''One thing you got to remember, this is not the NCAA basketball tournament, it's not one and done,'' Cooper said. ''It's the best of seven, so you get a chance to make some adjustments to improve your game and really get a look at the other team. ... It's hard to play flawless hockey all the way through.''

The Caps don't expect the Lightning to panic, either.

''Obviously, it doesn't matter what we did in Game 1 when it comes to Game 2,'' Beagle said.

''I would imagine there will be a really good push back from a really good hockey team. We're going to have to stay focused, not get ahead of ourselves,'' Oshie concluded. ''I can't imagine we're going to see the same Tampa team we saw in the first period the rest of this series.''

---

More AP hockey: https://apnews.com/tag/NHLhockey

Copyright 2019 by STATS LLC and Associated Press.
Any commercial use or distribution without the express written
consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited.

  
HEADLINES
· Williams: In the Crease - Week 26
· News: Grand Salami - March
· Oilers down Jackets as home 'dogs
· Flyers top Blackhawks, 'under' hits
· Penguins beat Predators, 2-1 in SO
· Lightning top 'Canes for 7th straight win
· Blues rip Red Wings as heavy favorites
· Price, Canadiens blank Islanders, 4-0
· Barkov lifts Panthers past Coyotes
MORE HEADLINES
 
Why Buy Picks From VegasInsider.com
NHL Pro Hockey Handicapper Sports Picks Records
NHL Hot Streaks
6-0 +630 G-Plays, 10-3 +882 Picks
14-3 L17 Totals, +3,294 Overall TY
7-1 +610 L8, 12-3 +965 Streak
+1,981 G-Plays, +1,397 This Year
6-3 Last 9 NHL Selections
13-6 L19 Totals, +1,043 TY
VegasInsider.com Gold Membership
2018 NHL SEASON PICK RECORDS
Money Leaders
Handicapper Money
Bill Marzano + 3494
Stephen Nover + 1297
Kevin Rogers + 1064
Last 7 Day Leaders
Handicapper Money
Gary Bart + 992
Matt Fargo + 645
Kevin Rogers + 348
Over-Under Leaders
Handicapper Money
Stephen Nover + 1344
Bill Marzano + 944
Joe Williams + 735
Guaranteed Leaders
Handicapper Money
Stephen Nover + 1881
Bill Marzano + 1140
Matt Fargo + 702
Underdog Leaders
Handicapper Money
Matt Fargo + 1725
Bill Marzano + 1212
Scott Rickenbach + 431
Member Leaders
Handicapper Money
Kevin Rogers + 1862
Scott Rickenbach + 1543
Gary Bart + 769
MORE PICK RECORDS
  
corner graphic
With a VI Gold Membership, you can SAVE 20% off Daily Pick packages, SAVE 10% off a Live Odds Pro subscription, and receive access to up to 1,000 Member Plays each month!
VI Gold Membership