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The Wraparound: Lightning not ‘sugar coating’ Game 3 focus

Nikita Kucherov was handed a one-game suspension for boarding Markus Nutivaara in Game 2 of the Lightning-Blue Jackets series. Eddie Olczyk and Jeremy Roenick debate whether Kucherov deserves a longer suspension.

The Wraparound is your daily look at the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs. We’ll break down each day’s matchups with the all-important television and live streaming information included.

An 0-2 deficit. A road game in Columbus. No Nikita Kucherov, and a “banged up” Victor Hedman. That’s not an ideal situation for the Presidents’ Trophy winning Tampa Bay Lightning heading into Game 3 Sunday night (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN; Live stream).

“We’ve got to win the next game,” said Lightning captain Steven Stamkos after Game 2. “That’s it, there’s no sugar coating it.”

Jon Cooper dubbed his team’s current predicament as a “five-alarm fire.” To begin, Tampa needs to stop or at least slow the Blue Jacket’s buzzsaw when they get going. In Game 1, as they begin a comeback down 3-1, Columbus scored three times in less than seven minutes in the third period to complete the upset. That momentum lingered into Game 2 as they mounted a 3-0 lead within the first 21:28 of the game. When it’s rained, it’s poured.

Three of Columbus’ nine goals have come via the power play; add in a Josh Anderson shorty and special teams have been a huge factor for the Blue Jackets. Tampa, meanwhile, is 0-for-5 with the man advantage after boasting a 28.2% success rate during the regular season.

The pressure in this series has never been on the Blue Jackets. It remains with the Lightning as they look to avoid an 0-3 hole. An historic season in Tampa was fun to watch, but it’s Stanley Cup or bust for the franchise following a 62-win regular season where they featured three 40-goal scorers and the likely Hart Trophy winner in Nikita Kucherov.

It’s an experience group that Cooper is leading, one that features a number of players with plenty of experience playing deep into the postseason and in Stanley Cup Finals. They’re not going to allow the pressure to get to them in what will be an electric Nationwide Arena in Game 3. It’s time for a reset and finding a way to get back to the form that brought them so much success through 82 games.

“We’re focused on Game 3,” Stamkos said. “There’s nothing we can do anymore, so there’s no sense in pouting right now. We’ve got to go into a difficult building and find a way to win a game and we’ll go from there.”


Game 3: Islanders at Penguins, 12 p.m. ET (Islanders lead 2-0): One of three series that could end up as 3-0 by Sunday evening. The Islanders have frustrated the Penguins, keeping their stars quiet. Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jake Guentzel have combined for one goal and three points through two games. Crosby and Guentzel have been limited to only three shots apiece. There won’t be any comeback in this series if the big names don’t have a hand in the production. (NBC; Live stream)

Game 3: Jets at Blues, 7:30 p.m. ET (Blues lead 2-0): Something for the Jets to keep in mind as they head to Enterprise Center for Game 3: They won 22 games away from home this season, a franchise record. Something to keep in mind for the Blues as they head home: According to the NHL, teams that take a 2-0 lead in a best-of-seven series are 318-50 all-time, and when those two games were won on the road, that record is 72-20. (CNBC; Live stream)

Game 3: Sharks at Golden Knights, 10 p.m. ET (Series tied 1-1): Martin Jones was fantastic in Game 1. Martin Jones was 2018-19 regular season Martin Jones in Game 2. Who will wee see in Game 3? San Jose’s chances of advancing rest on how their goaltending holds up vs. Vegas. Game 2 has to be the aberration for the Sharks. (NBCSN; Live stream)

Game 3: Bruins at Maple Leafs, 7 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
Game 3: Capitals at Hurricanes, 7 p.m. ET (CNBC)
Game 3: Predators at Stars, 9:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
Game 3: Flames at Avalanche, 10:30 p.m. ET (CNBC)


PHT’s 2019 Stanley Cup playoff previews
Capitals vs Hurricanes
Islanders vs. Penguins

Bruins vs. Maple Leafs
Lightning vs. Blue Jackets

Predators vs. Stars
Blues vs. Jets
Flames vs. Avalanche
Sharks vs. Golden Knights

Power Rankings: Why your team won’t win the Stanley Cup
Roundtable: Goaltending issues, challenging the Lightning
NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs: Round 1 schedule, TV info