TAMPA – Lightning coach Jon Cooper spent a lot of time during the final weeks of the season talking about the importance of home ice during the Stanley Cup playoffs. His take: It's what you do with it that matters.
Here is what the Lightning did with home ice during the first two games of its quarterfinal series against the Devils: win and win.
The Lightning took a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series with a 5-3 victory Saturday afternoon at Amalie Arena.
Alex Killorn scored twice and Andrei Vasilevskiy survived a frantic final 10 minutes to finish with 41 saves.
Game 3 is 7:30 p.m. Monday at the Prudential Center in Newark.
Ryan Callahan left near the end of the second period with an upper-body injury. He did not return. Also, Dan Girardi was not on the bench in the third period.
The Lightning exploded for four goals in a 10-minute span during the second, including two on the power play, to take control of the game.
Alex Killorn got it started when he directed a pass from Nikita Kucherov into the net to give the Lightning a 2-1 lead. With the Lightning on the power play, Steven Stamkos set up the play with a shot from the faceoff circle that went behind the net and caromed to Kucherov.
It was 3-1 a little over a minute later when Tyler Johnson directed a blast from the blue line by Ryan McDonagh into the net.
Kucherov scored his second of the series when he sped up the left side and sent the puck on net as he neared the goal line. Stamkos was closing in but never got to the puck because it hit off the skate of Sami Vatanen and into the net to make it 4-1.
It was 5-1 six minutes later when Killorn scored off a scramble in front with the Lightning on another power play.
That goal, the Lightning's fifth on only 15 shots, sent New Jersey goalie Keith Kinkaid to the bench. Cory Schneider, who began the year as the Devils' No. 1 goalie, finished the game.
The Devils still had life, and it cut the deficit to three goals when Sami Vatanen carried the puck into the zone and scored from between the faceoff circles with 26 seconds left in the period.
Blake Coleman scored with 8 minutes to go in the third to make it a two-goal game.
The Brayden Point-Ondrej Palat-Tyler Johnson line was at it again, with Palat feeding Point from just inside the blue line and Point turning on the jets as he skated in alone on Kinkaid and firing into the top of the net for an early 1-0 lead.
The Devils responded, though. Nico Hischier won a faceoff in the offensive zone. After Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped one shot, Anton Stralman tried to clear the puck but put it on the stick of Hischier, who easily scored. That goal, just over a minute after the Lightning took the lead, took a little of the edge off the Amalie Arena crowd.
Contact Roger Mooney at [email protected] Follow @rogermooney50