TAMPA — After giving up five goals in back-to-back games, the Lightning's defense buckled down with Sunday's shutout win over the Rangers.
"We took big steps (Sunday) in being the team we need to be to win," coach Jon Cooper said after the team flight home from New York. "We just looked after our net a lot better."
Some of that credit goes to Ben Bishop, who became the second goaltender in franchise history with multiple postseason shutouts. But the Lightning was also proud of its unselfish, team defense in Game 5.
The Lightning's 24 blocked shots were its most since the double-overtime win over Montreal in the first game of the second round and more than Tampa Bay had in the previous two games combined (22).
"It's frustrating when you get your shot blocked, I know that ..." C Brian Boyle said. "To be able to do that, it goes into our concept of team defense and making sure we do everything we can to keep the puck out of our net."
Boyle was a big part of that, leading the team with five blocked shots. He and RW Ryan Callahan both went down for the same block at one point, and Boyle had to hobble back to the bench after taking a puck to the body.
"I think our guys cheered as much for that blocked shot as they do for a goal," Cooper said. "That makes you feel good as a coach."
PK SURGE: The Lightning's penalty kill unit was 4-for-4 Sunday. It was solid during the regular season — ranking seventh in the league — but Cooper said the team felt called out after surrendering two power-play goals in each of the three previous games.
Boyle said Tampa Bay didn't do much different on special teams but tried to simplify things to avoid giving up easy looks and keep momentum.
"When you're kind of reeling a little bit, giving up two a game, we wanted to get back to basics," Boyle said.
FIL-ING IN: Until Sunday, one of C Valtteri Filppula's biggest offensive contributions came by moving to the top line and letting Steven Stamkos slide to wing. But Filppula added a different look in Game 5 when he wristed a shot past G Henrik Lundqvist for Tampa Bay's first goal.
Cooper said Filppula has developed such a pass-first reputation that he might have been the only one who thought he was going to shoot in his last goal, in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinal.
"The element of surprise is what I think we have," Cooper said. "…It's nice when he lets them go, because he can put them in the net."
Filppula has 12 shots and eight points in the last two series.
MEDICAL MATTERS: Cooper wasn't happy to see C Cedric Paquette leave Sunday's game with an apparent injury or D Braydon Coburn sit out with an illness, but he appreciated how neither wanted to abandon his team by leaving the bench.
Cooper said Coburn felt much better Monday, after his sickness limited him to 5:43 of ice time Sunday.
Follow all the action on and off the ice
Subscribe to our free Lightning Strikes newsletter
You’re all signed up!
Want more of our free, weekly newsletters in your inbox? Let’s get started.Explore all your options
Contact Matt Baker at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @MBakerTBTimes.