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Cooper: Lightning’s intensity in Game 1 not cutting it

Lightning coach felt his team took a step back from Round during first game of Round 2 of the playoffs
The Lightning need to pick up its intensity in Game 2 or there will be more scenes like this. [DIRK SHADD | Times]
The Lightning need to pick up its intensity in Game 2 or there will be more scenes like this. [DIRK SHADD | Times]
Published Apr. 29, 2018

BRANDON – The Lightning worked on getting the puck out of its zone over and over and over Sunday during an hour-long practice that could be described as spirited, up-tempo and intense.

Or how about this? Desperate.

The Lightning is down 1-0 in the Eastern Conference semifinal against the Bruins that resumes Monday night at Amalie Arena. It does not want to be down 2-0 when the series shifts Wednesday to Boston.

To keep that from happening, the Lightning must capitalize on scoring chances and find a way to stop Boston's top line.

The Lightning needs to play with more intensity than it did Saturday during the 6-2 loss in Game 1.

"I bet you all five games in the (first-round series against the Devils) we had more intensity than we had in Game 1 (Saturday), and it's not going to get it done," coach Jon Cooper said after practice. "With every round, you have to elevate your game, your intensity, everything, and we didn't. Took a step back. A really good team showed us what happens when you do that."

The Lightning had 78 scoring chances to the Bruins' 37. The problem was it failed to get the puck on net on 42 of those chances, with 21 of them resulting in blocked shots. But, as Cooper said, his team lost by four goals.

"So, let's call it how it is," Cooper said. "We'll make sure we don't make that mistake again."

Hence, the hard practice.

RELATED: The Lightning's Game 1 loss wasn't as bad as it looked, Tom Jones says.

Steven Stamkos said the practice pace was not unusual for a team that played Saturday after sitting for six days. "And in the first game, we weren't extremely impressed with our effort," he said.

The Lightning did not have an answer for the Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-David Pastrnak line that produced 11 points. Nor did it find a way to beat goalie Tuukka Rask, who was not particularly sharp during the Bruins' seven-game first-round series against the Maple Leafs.

Allowing the Bergeron line to take control the of Game 1 was troublesome because the trio did not exactly dominate when on the ice. It just took advantage of breakdowns to score three goals.

When asked how his team could stop that line, Cooper said, "You got to be hard on it. You have to respect them as a group, but you can't fear them. You got to see it as a really good challenge. Play hard on them. You make life miserable.

"At the end of the game, you want their players to say, 'Oh, man. We got to play them again,' and we didn't make (the Bruins) feel like that. It was more, 'Man, can't wait to play those guys again,' and that's got to change."

Yanni Gourde called the practice good.

"There's some stuff we need to clean up from last game," he said.

Like?

"I think our forecheck has to be a little better," he said. "We've got to bring better intensity in Game 2. That's why we had a high-paced practice."

There is that word again: intensity.

RELATED: Grading the Lightning's Game 1 loss.

"I think we need to do a better job," Gourde said, "but instead of matching their intensity, just bring our own. Go out there and do our own things and try to feed off that."

Boston coach Bruce Cassidy said he expects the Lightning to turn up the intensity Monday.

"We know they're good. We've seen them five times this year," Cassidy said. "I expect they will be better than (Saturday) in certain areas of the game, and we will as well."

Contact Roger Mooney at rmooney@tampabay.com. Follow @rogermooney50.