TAMPA — As the Lightning have previously said following a loss in the postseason, there isn’t panic in the room. And that includes after Tampa Bay dropped the Stanley Cup semifinals opener 2-1 against the Islanders at Amalie Arena on Sunday.
On Monday, the Lightning opted to use their off day to study film. Healthy scratches in forward Mitchell Stephens, defensemen Luke Schenn and Fredrik Claesson, and goaltender Curtis McElhinney were the only players to take the ice for the optional practice.
“We watched a lot of video and (saw) what works and what does not work,” Norris Trophy finalist Victor Hedman said. “We know what we do when we’re successful.”
History says the Lightning shouldn’t be worried. The team hasn’t lost back-to-back postseason games since the infamous Columbus sweep of 2019, when the Blue Jackets won four straight against the Presidents’ Trophy winners in the first round. Since then, Tampa Bay is 9-0 following a loss in the playoffs.
Hedman said that by going back through video of all three zones (offensive, neutral and defensive), the team saw opportunities to score at even strength. Looking back, “there were a lot of things (the team) left out there (we) weren’t happy with.”
But it’s hard to adjust on the fly against a team you haven’t seen since last year’s Eastern Conference final, Hedman added.
“It’s easy to panic and kind of feel like we really, really need to win the next game,” Hedman said. “And we want to win the next game, obviously, but you just have to go out there and play your game. You can’t be scared going out. You have to embrace that challenge. ... We just have to trust ourselves and trust the game play.”
Losing the first game in a series isn’t anything new for Tampa Bay. Since coach Jon Cooper took over the team in 2012-13, the team has lost the first game in a series 11 of 19 times (58 percent).
Cooper said after watching film of the semifinal opener, the group concluded it didn’t manage the puck — or the game — well, which limited the team’s chances on the offensive side of things.
But one thing to remember, Cooper said, is that the Lightning are a “proud team (that’s) pretty driven to win.”
“They’ve just shown this ability to dig their heels in,” he said. “And I’ll expect no different (in Game 2). I can’t sit here and say what the result’s going to be, but I know you’ll get a hell of an effort from our guys.”
Ultimate rebound team
Dating to the beginning of last postseason, the Lightning are 9-0 coming off a loss, including two wins after Game 1 losses in last year’s playoffs. During last year’s run to the Stanley Cup, the Lightning won four straight against the Bruins in the second round after dropping Game 1 and beat the Stars in six games after losing the Cup final series opener.
First round: Game 3 vs. Blue Jackets, 3-2 W
Second round: Game 2 vs. Bruins, 4-3 W (OT)
Eastern final: Game 4 vs. Islanders, 4-1 W
Eastern final: Game 6 vs. Islanders, 2-1 W (OT)
Stanley Cup Final: Game 2 vs. Stars, 3-2 W
Stanley Cup Final: Game 6 vs. Stars 2-0 W
First round: Game 3 vs. Panthers, 6-5 W (OT)
First round: Game 6 vs. Panthers, 4-0 W
Second round: Game 4 vs. Carolina, 6-4 W
Stanley Cup semis: Game 2 vs. Islanders, TBD
Quite the consolation prize
Even following a loss, forward Blake Coleman’s day didn’t turn out all too badly Sunday.
He and his wife, Jordan, welcomed their second daughter, Carson Elizabeth, hours after the Lightning’s loss to the Islanders, he announced on Instagram Monday morning.
“Welcome to the world Carson,” Coleman wrote. “We love you. Thankful for a happy and healthy mom and healthy baby girl after she made her appearance late last night.”
This isn’t the first time the Colemans have welcomed a child midseason. Soon after Coleman was traded to Tampa Bay in February 2020, his wife had their first daughter, Charlie. He missed the game that night, but hit the ice the next day for practice on three hours of sleep.
Jordan posted on Instagram that Carson was born at 11:07 p.m., just over five hours after the game wrapped. Carson weighed 7 pounds, 5 ounces (3 ounces more than her older sister).
“We love you beautiful girl,” Jordan wrote. “Can’t wait for you to meet your sister Charlie!”
• • •
Sign up for Lightning Strikes, a weekly newsletter from Bolts beat writer Eduardo A. Encina that brings you closer to the ice.