Resilience is one of the keys to success in the NHL playoffs.
The seventh-seeded Columbus Blue Jackets exhibited it in rebounding from a five-overtime loss its first-round series against Tampa Bay. Now, it’s the second-seeded Lightning’s turn to answer the challenge of moving on from a disappointing result.
You’re going to go through a rollercoaster, you’re going to go through momentum changes, you’re going to go through momentum shifts,” forward Pat Maroon said, looking ahead to Game 3 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinal matchup on Saturday (7:30 p.m. EDT, NBCSN).
”You can’t focus on what happened,” Maroon, who helped the St. Louis Blues win their first Stanley Cup title a year ago, ”you’ve just got to focus on the task at hand.”
The 32-year-old Maroon was one of several key offseason acquisitions Tampa Bay made after winning last season’s Presidents Trophy only to be swept from the playoffs in four games by the Blue Jackets.
In addition to adding experience and toughness, Maroon has been every bit the leader the Lightning envisioned he’d be.
”Pat has got a ring, and he’s got one for a reason. He’s been through this grind. I think he’s been a good sounding board for our team in the sense he knows there’s going to be these ups and downs,” Blake Coleman, a veteran added at the trade deadline, said.
”I think it’s second nature for guys to want to get frustrated with a loss, or with not being able to score, and things like that,” Coleman added. ”But Pat’s been great about just keeping us level and helping guys … understand it’s going to be a long series. You’re not going to win 16 games in a row.”
Fourth-seeded Boston and No. 5 Carolina are also tied at one game apiece entering Game 3 Saturday (noon, NBC).
Meanwhile, top-seeded Vegas looks to up 3-0 on the eighth-seeded Chicago Blackhawks (8 p.m., NBC) and second-seeded Colorado looks to build on a 2-0 advantage over No. 7 Arizona (3 p.m., CNBC) in the Western Conference.
”During a game when you’re going through highs and lows and emotions, it’s taxing on both teams. So, it’s how you regroup. It’s not a best of 1. It’s a best of seven,” said Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper, whose high-scoring Lightning has been limited to three goals in two games.
Goaltender Joonas Korpisalo has been superb for Columbus. After making a NHL-record 85 saves in a 3-2, five-overtime loss in Game 1, he stopped 36 of 37 shots Thursday to key a 3-1 victory that evened the series.
Afterward, Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella played down the significance of rebounding after falling short in the opener.
”It’s what pros are supposed to do. I don’t think it’s anything special,” Tortorella said after Game 2. ”I think it’s the proper way of going about your business.”
Cooper isn’t overly concerned about Tampa Bay’s offense, which outshot the Blue Jackets 125-85 in the first two games.
The Lightning got off to a fast start in Game 2, scoring the first goal before fading.
”We’ve just got to come out and continue to preach the things that have given us a lot of success in this series, which has been pretty much everything except for score goals,” Cooper said. ”At some point, they are going to come for us.”
In best-of-seven series tied 1-1, the winner of Game 3 has gone on to capture the series 67 percent (215-106) of the time.
The Golden Knights remained in control of the Blackhawks with a 4-3 overtime victory Thursday night. The Avalanche took Game 2 from the Coyotes 3-2 on Friday.
Teams with 2-0 leads in seven-game series have wound up advancing 86.4 percent (324-51) of the time.
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