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Lightning ready to ‘work for it,’ make up for missed Game 4 opportunity

Josh Anderson pounces on a Lightning turnover and alertly turns in a loose puck to net the Canadiens' overtime winner in Game 4 and prevent a sweep in the Stanley Cup Final.

The talk from the Canadiens following their overtime win in Game 4 was how they’ve been a resilient bunch all postseason. That’s true. They rallied from a 3-1 series deficit in the First Round versus the Maple Leafs; battled back in a tough Stanley Cup Semifinal series against the Golden Knights; and now avoided elimination in the Cup Final against the Lightning with a gritty 3-2 win where they blew two leads.

But Tampa Bay has a longer track record in the “resiliency” department. Over the last two playoffs the Lightning are 13-0 in games following a loss. The last time they dropped two postseason games in a row was the famous 2019 First Round sweep at the hands of the Blue Jackets.

“In the past, we’ve done a good job of leaving the previous game in the past if we’re coming off of a loss,” said Tampa Bay forward Barclay Goodrow. “We have a great leadership group that gets our minds in the right spot.”

Despite Mayor Jane Castor getting her wish, the Lightning wanted to close out the series Monday night. You never want to give an opponent life in a series, no matter how far ahead you are. You certainly don’t want to open the door a little bit for a Canadiens team that has shown its ability to earn victories.

Now it’s on to Game 5 Wednesday (8 p.m. ET; NBC/Peacock) at AMALIE Arena and a second shot at winning back-to-back Stanley Cups.

[NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2021 schedule, TV info]

“You can’t pick your adversity,” said Lightning head coach Jon Cooper. “You hit a little bit of it, and you have to fight your way through it. It’s just something we’re going to have to fight our way through. We can’t hang our hat that we’re going home.

“We’ve been through this before. We’ve had a chance to knock teams out a few times last year and a few times this year. It’s why you go up in series, to give yourself a chance or multiple chances to knock a team out. We just have to regroup and see if we can do it in Game 5.”

Tampa Bay knows it missed numerous opportunities to win Game 4. They hit three posts; their power play went 0-for-5; and, per Natural Stat Trick, squandered their 5-on-5 high-danger shot advantage (14-4). The Lightning didn’t close out the Canadiens when they had the opportunity, and they paid for it -- at least for one game.

This is familiar territory for Tampa Bay. Last September, while in the Edmonton bubble, they were up 3-1 in the Cup Final against the Stars only to drop Game 5 in double overtime thanks to a Corey Perry goal. Two days later they shut Dallas out 2-0 to clinch their second title in franchise history.

The Lightning knows it can’t just show up and expect to win. Montreal has shown no fear when facing adversity in any series this postseason. Tampa Bay now gets a second chance to close the door.
“You can’t just take experience and throw it on the ice and sit here and say you’re going to win,” Cooper said. “You have to work for it.”


Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.