Lightning: Our focus tonight will match Games 1-2
Detroit – Lightning players think they played lousy against the Red Wings Sunday, and they do not intend to lack the competitive edge in Game 4.
“We did not compete like we did the first two games, and that is a problem,” said Cedric Paquette, who was victimized by Brendan Smith with a huge open-ice hit in the first minutes of play Sunday.
The check set the tone for the Wings and only added to the boost they got from a loud Joe Louis Arena crowd.
But Paquette and other Lightning players vowed a different response and approach generally in Game 4 Tuesday night.
“If you don’t compete as much as the other team does, you will be in trouble,” he said. “And that is why we had trouble shooting the puck on (Petr) Mrazek. “We’re a confident group here. We’ll be ready to play 60 minutes hard tonight, and I think we need to be focused like we were in the first two games.”
One area requiring attention is discipline.
After the game Sunday, Coach Jon Cooper made clear he thought the 2-0 loss resulted a bit less from what the Red Wings did to his team, than what the Lightning players did to themselves.
He credited the Wings with highly-motivated play, but said a dozen penalties hampered the Lightning.
“You’re just killing (penalties) the whole night,” Cooper said. “And whether you debate the calls here or there, we didn’t give ourselves a chance.
“If you are going to sit in the penalty box all night, it’s hard to do anything.”
The new Red Wings line of Justin Abdelkader, Luke Glendening and Riley Sheahan held the big Lightning line of Tyler Johnson, Alex Killorn and Nikita Kucherov without a shot in Game 3.
Kucherov said the trio needs to get back to their game.
Asked about the forwards arrayed against them, Kucherov said, “What line?”
“As I said, we didn’t play our best. That was a tough game for us, and they actually played really good.
“We didn’t think about, you know, their line. We only think about ourselves. We play our game. And we have to have success.”
In the first two games of the series, the line accounted for seven of the eight Lightning goals.
Tough on the visitors
The Red Wings say the fans in Joe Louis Arena provide a huge boost.
Lightning players agree.
“It’s pretty tough to play in this building,” Paquette said Tuesday morning. “Like us, they are confident on home ice. We just need to get this one win here and go from there.”
For Kucherov, the keys to winning in Detroit in the playoffs are standard for road games throughout the season: “Try to be simple. Play our game. And stay out of the box.”