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O'Reilly scores two as Blues even series against Canucks – TSN

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EDMONTON — The St. Louis Blues battled-tested vets gave the Vancouver Canucks a lesson on playoff resiliency Monday, shutting down the Canuck power play and fixing their own to draw even in their NHL playoff series.

Ryan O’Reilly scored twice and added an assist for the Blues in a 3-1 win at Rogers Place to give them their second consecutive win and tie the best-of-seven series at two games each.

Game 5 goes Wednesday.

Captain Alex Pietrangelo scored once and added an assist while veteran forward David Perron picked up two assists for the defending Stanley Cup champions.

“It was nice to get on the board tonight,” said O’Reilly.

“I haven’t been creating much offensively, so it was nice to put the puck in the back of the net, but it’s just one game. I’ve got to be consistent with it.”

The teams were playing on a quick 24-hour turnaround. The Blues beat the Canucks 3-2 late Sunday night in overtime.

They outshot the Canucks 37-23, scored two goals with the man advantage to turn around what had been an abysmal 2-for-11 power play going into Game 4.

Most importantly, they shut down a Canuck power play that had torched them for six goals in the first three games, but went 0 for 7 on this night.

“When we take care of the puck it’s effective and it’s hard on them,” said O’Reilly.

“I think it was nice with an obviously emotional win last night. (We were) feeling good coming back into the rink again today and going right to our game again. I think that was a big factor. Obviously a lot of work left. We’ve got to stick to our structure.”

Pietrangelo said they’ve been working on fixing the penalty kill.

“We’ve been making adjustments as we go, just based on what they do,” he said.

“Big thing for us is clearing the puck when he have an opportunity, so we were much better at that tonight.”

Jake Allen made 22 saves in net for the win and Jacob Markstrom stopped 34 for the loss.

J.T. Miller had the lone Canucks marker, his fourth of the post-season.

He said the Blues are adapting to their power play,

“They’re blocking a lot of shots, they’re studying us. They kind of know what we’re doing,” said Miller.

He said they’ll make adjustments but aren’t going to go back to square one.

“We were a shot away from going up 3-0 (in the series). Tonight it was 1-1 five on five,” he said.

“It’s not like we’re getting our butts whupped up and down the rink. They’re a good team. We’re a good team. It’s going to be a hard, long series. We signed up for that.”

The Canucks have not been in the playoffs since 2015 and many on the roster, including key players Elias Pettersson, Markstrom, Brock Boeser and Quinn Hughes, are getting their first taste of the rigours of the NHL post-season.

O’Reilly, last year’s Conn Smythe Trophy winner in the cup run, scored late in the first period on the power play — the first time the Blues have opened the scoring in the series.

Pietrangelo whistled a slapshot that missed the net, but the puck caromed straight back off the backboards to O’Reilly, who put it under the crossbar.

Vancouver tied it just 40 seconds into the second period. Alex Edler wristed the puck from the blue line and Miller redirected it in.

St. Louis then took control, outshooting the Canucks 17-5 in the period.

O’Reilly took a pass out of the corner from Perron, walked out in front of the net and flicked a backhander into the top corner. The Blues then caught a break on a two-man advantage. Pietrangelo zipped the puck through traffic in the crease. The puck hit Edler’s stick and in.

O’Reilly has three goals in the series. Perron recorded two assists and has registered a point in every game this series (two goals, four assists).

Allen started for the second consecutive game for St. Louis, replacing Jordan Binnington. Markstrom has played every minute for the Canucks through eight post-season games.

Vancouver captain Bo Horvat was kept off the scoresheet for a second consecutive game after lighting up the Blues for two goals in each of the first two contests.

Hughes also saw his streak snapped. The Calder candidate was going for a point in his seventh consecutive post-season game. The 20-year-old has one goal and eight assists.

All Western Conference games are being played in front of no fans at Rogers Place. The players are being kept isolated in a so-called bubble between games to prevent contracting COVID-19.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published August 17, 2020.

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Lightning show grit in Final, adapt after first-round sweep last season – NHL.com

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The Tampa Bay Lightning are three wins from a Stanley Cup championship because they were willing to change and adapt to overcome their shocking and crushing end to last season.

The Lightning were swept in four games by the Columbus Blue Jackets in the Eastern Conference First Round after tying the NHL single-season record with 62 wins (1995-96 Detroit Red Wings). Now they’re even with the Dallas Stars in the Stanley Cup Final after going 12-4 in the first three rounds of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, including a five-game win against Columbus in the first round.

Game 3 of the best-of-7 series is at Rogers Place in Edmonton, the hub city for the Final, on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS).

“I think experience and being humbled can help right a ship,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “I truly believe last year’s experience, we’re seeing the fruits of that awful setback. What do they say the definition of insanity is, doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result? We couldn’t do that.”

The Lightning are bigger, tougher, stronger and grittier than they were a season ago. Former Lightning forward Ryan Callahan, who played for them last season and was a guest on the NHL @TheRink podcast Tuesday, said they have more “sandpaper.”

Tampa Bay signed forward Pat Maroon to a one-year, $900,000 contract last Aug. 24. The Lightning then bolstered their roster during the season by acquiring forwards Barclay Goodrow and Blake Coleman in trades, giving up a first-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft in each, and signing defenseman Zach Bogosian to a one-year, $1.3 million contract after he was placed on waivers by the Buffalo Sabres.

Goodrow and Coleman play on the aggressive, attacking, fast and physical third line with center Yanni Gourde. Goodrow has become one of Cooper’s go-to players late in close games; he took three face-offs in the final minute of a 3-2 win in Game 2 on Monday.

“I commend [general manager Julien BriseBois] because he stuck his neck out on the line,” Cooper said. “I know he was probably questioned or criticized for the amount people perceived he gave up, but to me it doesn’t matter. It’s what your assets do to build your team to win. He did that. They weren’t sexy trades, they weren’t sexy signings, but they were gutty ones, and it was what we needed.”

The third line is evidence of what is different about the Lightning: It doesn’t have to score to be effective.

“We used to be a team that it wasn’t good enough to beat you 3-0, we had to beat you 9-0,” Cooper said. “We had to change that attitude.”

For example, Tampa Bay took a 3-0 lead against Columbus in the first period of Game 1 last season, got comfortable, thought it would come easy and ended up giving it away and lost 4-3.

On Monday, the Lightning took a 3-0 lead in the first period of Game 2, stood in as the Stars tried to punch back, took a few blows but limited Dallas to two shots after Mattias Janmark scored to make it 3-2 at 5:27 of the third period.

Video: The Tampa Bay Lightning come away with Game 2

They are 10-2 this postseason in games decided by one goal, including 4-1 in overtime. They have won 10 games scoring three or fewer goals.

“The M.O. on the Lightning the last few years is that they’re offensive and they’re skilled and the way to beat them is to play them hard,” said defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, who is in his first season with Tampa Bay. “I think things have changed this year. The perception of our team will be changed after this playoffs is over. We make it a point to play defense and play structured, and we know that because we have all the skill in our lineup when our offensive chances do come we have the ability to take advantage of it.”

Cooper said the change in attitude came from Tampa Bay’s best players. Nikita Kucherov is the perfect example.

Last season, the forward was voted the Hart Trophy winner as NHL most valuable player and the Ted Lindsay Award winner as most outstanding player as voted by members of the NHL Players’ Association, and won the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL scoring leader with 128 points (41 goals, 47 assists). But he was suspended for Game 3 against Columbus for boarding defenseman Markus Nutivaara late in the third period of Game 2, a 5-1 loss.

This season, Kucherov has set the Lightning record for most points in a postseason with 28 (six goals, 22 assists), including two assists in Game 2. He hasn’t missed a game and is arguably setting the tone for Tampa Bay with how hard he’s playing.

“Look no further than Nikita Kucherov’s game last night, and how he was getting beat up in ways that for anybody it’s hard to come back,” Cooper said. “All he did was come back and run a power play that scored two goals and be a big part of why we won. When guys understand that it’s now what you keep out of your net and not how much you put in your net, good things will happen, and that’s what’s going on so far.”

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How the Lightning built a dominant line at the trade deadline – NHL

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After their shockingly disappointing playoff loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets a year ago, it would have been easy for the Tampa Bay Lightning to conclude that they needed to do something drastic to a team that kept falling short in the most frustrating ways come playoff time.

They could have made a major trade.

They could have fired coach Jon Cooper.

Pretty much anything that would have sent a jolt through the team.

[NBC 2020 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

It also would have been completely reckless, because that is not at all what the Lightning needed.

Even with their late-round collapses (and one early round collapse) this has still been one of the league’s most successful franchises for six seasons. It is a team that is — and has been — loaded with All-Star talent at every level of the roster.

They didn’t need a massive shake-up. They needed a couple of tweaks. General manager Julian Brisebois and his staff were all smart enough to realize that. Some of those tweaks started in the offseason when they signed Kevin Shattenkirk and Patrick Maroon to cheap, one-year contracts to add some depth.

But those were nothing compared to the two trade deadline moves (Blake Coleman and Barclay Goodrow) that helped Tampa Bay build not only one of its most effective lines this postseason, but one of the most effective lines in the entire NHL.

It is one of the biggest reasons they are three wins away from a championship.

The Trades

It all started on February 16 when they sent a first-round draft pick (previously acquired from Vancouver for J.T Miller) and 2019 first-round pick Nolan Foote to the New Jersey Devils for Coleman.

A week later they sent their own 2020 first-round pick, as well as Anthony Greco (who had just been acquired a couple of days earlier) to the San Jose Sharks for Barclay Goodrow and a 2020 third-round pick.

It’s a lot to give up, no question. When the dust settled they sent what amounted to three first-round picks for the two forwards, neither of which would be what anyone considers to be a top-line player.

Coleman was the most notable of the two given his status as a 20-goal scorer in each of the past two seasons. Add in his defensive ability and cap-friendly contract ($1.8 million salary cap hit this season and next season) and he carries a ton of value. So it’s not a shock he carried a steep price in trade.

[Lightning vs. Stars: 2020 Stanley Cup Final schedule]

The price for Goodrow, however, was probably a little more eye-opening because you don’t usually see teams trade a first-round pick for a 27-year-old forward with a career high of 27 points.

He is not bringing you offense. What he does bring you is defense. A lot of it. Over the past two seasons Goodrow was one of the Sharks’ most impactful defensive forwards when it came to suppressing shot attempts, scoring chances, expected goals and, yes, actual goals.

Also like Coleman he carries an extremely team-friendly salary cap number ($925,000 per season) through next season.

That means the Lightning added two outstanding defensive forwards, including one with 20-goal ability, for a combined salary cap hit of just $2.7 million through the end of next season.

Individually, those have proven to be two very solid moves.

When put together around Yanni Gourde they have produced a game-changing line.

The Results

The Lightning’s best line this postseason has obviously been its top trio of Nikita Kucherov, Brayden Point, and Ondrej Palat. They have dominated every phase of the game and two of them (Kucherov and Point) are contenders for the Conn Smythe Trophy.

But the Coleman-Goude-Goodrow line is not far behind them in terms of overall effectiveness, as the table below outlines.

All data via Natural Stat Trick.

(CF% = shot attempt percentage; xGF = expected goals for percentage; CA/60 = total shot attempts against per 60 minutes; xGA/60 = expected goals against per 60 minutes; GA/60 = goals against per 60 minutes).

The top line is dominating across the board, which is exactly what you expect with two All-Stars (including the reigning league MVP) playing next to each other.

But look at the second line. There is a decent gap in terms of possession (shot attempts) and scoring chances (expected goals), but they are shutting teams down at an elite level and have scored goals at a rate similar to the All-Star top line. Keep in mind, this is only 5-on-5 data and Kucherov-Point line has a ton of power play points together to drive the offense. But it is still impressive at how close they are in terms of overall effectiveness at even-strength.

As good as that top line is, it takes more than one great line to compete for a championship and ultimately win one.

Thanks to some shrewd moves at the deadline, as well as the scouting and player development system that produced Gourde as an undrafted free agent several years ago, the Lightning have given themselves a second great line to help drive their team.

It is all still in place for next season as well, and when Gourde’s contract is added in it still only costs them $7.8 million against the cap. Tough to beat that value, especially if it helps produce a championship.

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

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Cup Final bubble downtime takes focus off hockey for Lightning, Stars – NHL.com

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He explained there was a guy named Jimmy with NHL Studios who had been following him around. Jimmy had been in a band called Monster Magnet, which had a song at the end of the movie “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby.”

“The running joke was, you’ve got to wear a T-shirt at a press conference if you make the Stanley Cup Final,” Cooper said. “And so we made the Stanley Cup Final, and I’m owning up to Jimmy.”

The Lightning and the Dallas Stars are even in the best-of-7 series entering Game 3 at Rogers Place in Edmonton, the hub city for the Cup Final, on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS).

The story of the T-shirt isn’t really about the T-shirt. It’s a window into Cooper and his personality, and more importantly, it’s a window into the bubble and the bond between everyone in it: players, coaches, staff, everyone.

Jimmy — aka Jimmy Bags — is Jim Baglino, a sound technician who is working on “Quest for the Stanley Cup,” the six-part, all-access series with new episodes at 6 p.m. ET each Wednesday on ESPN+ in the United States and YouTube in Canada.

Baglino has worked the Cup Final so many times he can’t remember — 14 or 15, he thinks. This Cup Final is unlike any other.

“This is by far the most bizarre,” Baglino said. “I don’t know if bizarre is the right word.”

After the NHL season was paused March 12 due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus, the League returned with an unprecedented 24-team tournament in bubbles and no fans in the stands.

The Lightning started in Toronto on July 26 and traveled to Edmonton when they made the Eastern Conference Final. The Stars started in Edmonton on July 26 and have been there ever since.

The members of each team have been going through the same experience as everyone working alongside them: COVID-19 testing, strict safety protocols, hotel life, restaurant meals, isolation from family and friends and the rest of the outside world.

“Everybody’s in it together,” Baglino said. “You see Dallas sitting over here. They’re having lunch. The Tampa guys are over here. I’m walking across the yard the other day. I run into [Cooper] coming from the food truck. I go get a coffee, and I see [Dallas coach Rick Bowness] having a coffee. It’s a unique experience.”

Everyone has a job to do as a professional, but everyone is a person with a life outside of work too.

“Players, coaches, everybody’s focused,” Baglino said. “We’re focused on what we’re doing. But there is that downtime where normally you go home, but you’re here. You have that downtime together a lot, and that’s when you start talking about non-hockey-related stuff.”

Baglino gets to know the players, coaches and officials well, because he helps mic them for sound. He has worked a lot with Cooper in the past. He followed Dallas and Tampa Bay in the conference finals and is following Tampa Bay in the Cup Final.

He likes to talk about music. He toured with Monster Magnet in the 1990s as a tech, and when the bass player left in the early 2000s, he became the bassist. He retired from touring about four years ago.

Turns out, Cooper likes to talk about music too.

One day recently, Cooper was talking about bands he knew, and Baglino mentioned he had been in Monster Magnet.

“He’s a thorough guy when it comes to hockey or when it comes to other things,” Baglino said. “So he kind of looked into it, and I think he kind of dug it a little bit.”

Long story short, the Lightning ordered a Monster Magnet T-shirt and had it shipped to the bubble. Cooper told Baglino that if Tampa Bay made the Cup Final, he would wear it. Baglino said he’d hold him to it.

Video: Bowness, Cooper deliver pregame speeches for SCF Gm1

After the Lightning defeated the Stars 3-2 in Game 2 on Monday, eventually the camera and the microphone turned off.

“I was like, ‘Where’s the Monster Magnet shirt, man?'” Baglino said. “I was kind of razzing him a little bit about it. He’s like, ‘Don’t worry, I’m going to wear it.’ I’m like, ‘I’m holding you to it.'”

Cooper was good on his word. He wore the shirt to the press conference. Of course, it was a magnet for the media, and a reporter asked about it a couple minutes in. Cooper said he would circle back.

He was good on his word then too. At the end of the press conference, he volunteered the story, thinking Baglino was there to see it. The only problem was, for once, Baglino wasn’t there.

“I think it’s his first press conference that I missed, and it was the one that he wore that,” Baglino said with a laugh. “I may have to get him to wear it again.”

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