Stanley Cup Final: Lightning not viewing Game 2 as 'must-win'


Stanley Cup Final: Lightning not viewing Game 2 as 'must-win'

TAMPA, Fla. – Several Tampa Bay Lightning players fielded the “must-win-Game-2,” question, each reaching the same conclusion.


“There’s no real must-win until you’ve lost three games in a series,” Steven Stamkos said.

The Blackhawks had their answer, too.

“I think we need to play Game 2 like it's a must‑win game,” coach Joel Quenneville said.

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You take quotes for what they are, always, but especially in the postseason. The truth of how each team feels about the must-win topic probably lies somewhere in between. But there’s no doubt the Lightning want nothing more than to hit the road, where they’ve been very good, with a 1-1 split at home. And the Blackhawks want nothing more than to head home, where they’ve been very good, with a 2-0 lead from the road.

The Lightning have now started three of their four postseason series in a 0-1 deficit; obviously they did all right in those other two series. Forward Brenden Morrow said after Game 1 that the Lightning can respect the Blackhawks but “you can’t fear them.” Coach Jon Cooper said there’s no danger of that.

“There’s no fear in the room,” Cooper said. “We got a taste of who we were playing against. It’s probably in our style; this is the third [series] where we’ve lost game one. We’ve never made it easy on ourselves. But we came here to win this thing, and that’s what we’re going to try to do.”

On the flip side, the Blackhawks felt like they got away with one on Wednesday night – “I think we know that we didn't play our best game,” Jonathan Toews said. The Blackhawks were flat-footed against the speedy Lightning early but looked more like themselves in the third when they were getting sustained time in Tampa Bay’s zone and, eventually, finding two quick goals. So the Blackhawks’ mantra heading into Game 2 is, be happy that you pulled out Game 1, but improve off it.

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans]

“They were obviously really effective, especially early on in the game,” Antoine Vermette said. “On our side, we like to play that kind of game, too. It's a matter of puck possession, establishing pressure and speed. Whoever does that better give themself a better chance in the game.”

The Lightning liked how they played for the most part but didn’t get the desired result. The Blackhawks weren’t thrilled with their overall game but did get the desired result. How each team truly views Game 2 and its must-win level isn’t necessarily evident by what they said. It’ll be evident in how they play.

“Obviously there are some adjustments coming into this series. But I think we're definitely comfortable now. We know how to get off on the right foot in the next game,” Toews said. “ The motivation is right there just to play better. I think when we do that we'll give ourselves a better chance of winning.”

Capitals' Devante Smith-Pelly speaks out about 'racially charged chanting' at United Center

Capitals' Devante Smith-Pelly speaks out about 'racially charged chanting' at United Center

After being on the receiving end of some racist taunts while he was in the penalty box during Saturday's game against the Blackhawks, Capitals winger Devante Smith-Pelly spoke publicly about the incident.

Smith-Pelly, a 25-year-old Canadian, reacted to the fans while he was in the box, going up to them from the other side of the glass. He addressed questions from the media about the incident on Sunday.

"I just heard some chanting, some, I guess, racially charged chanting," Smith-Pelly said. "You can tell by my reaction that I got pretty upset.

"What was said this time around crossed the line."

The Capitals released a statement about the incident:

"The Washington Capitals are extremely disappointed by the intolerant behavior extended toward Devante Smith-Pelly by a select group of fans during Saturday night's game against the Chicago Blackhawks at United Center. The Capitals organization strives to be inclusive and has zero tolerance concerning any form of racism. Such behavior is unacceptable and has no place in hockey or society. As such, it is crucial to confront such appalling conduct, and the Capitals extend their appreciation to the Blackhawks organization and United Center security for swiftly removing the fans from the game."

The Blackhawks released a statement after the game with a similar tone.

Smith-Pelly said this has happened previously in his career.

"It's sad that in 2018 we're still talking about the same thing over and over," Smith-Pelly said. "It's sad that athletes like myself 30, 40 years ago were standing in the same spot saying the same thing. You'd think there'd be some sort of change or progression, but we're still working towards it I guess and we're going to keep working towards it."

The Capitals released the full interview.

Blackhawks release statement following incident that happened during game vs. Capitals


Blackhawks release statement following incident that happened during game vs. Capitals

Four fans at the United Center were thrown out of Saturday's Blackhawks game for taunting Washington Capitals forward Devante Smith-Pelly with racist remarks.

Midway through the third period, Smith-Pelly, who is black, was in the penalty box when fans shouted "basketball, basketball, basketball" at him, the Washington Post reported.

Here is a GIF of Smith-Pelly's interaction with the fans:

After the game, the Blackhawks released this statement:

Capitals head coach Barry Trotz also had this to say about the incident: