A feisty Nikita Kucherov scored two goals, set up another and knocked New Jersey’s top defenseman out of the game with a big hit, and the Tampa Bay Lightning moved within a game of making the Devils’ first trip to the playoffs in six years a short one with a 3-1 victory on Wednesday night.
Game Kids Alex Galchenyuk Jersey J.T. Miller also scored and had two assists, and Vezina Trophy finalist Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped three breakaways in making 27 saves as the Lightning bounced back from a loss in Game 3 to tale a 3-1 lead in the first-round series.
Vatanen did not return.
The Lightning were leading 2-1 at that point and the score didn’t change until Kucherov’s empty net goal with 1:08 to play iced the game.
We knew they were going to be better, and they were, Bruins defenseman Pat McAfee Jersey Torey Krug said. They were out there flying around and making some good plays and pushed us back on our heels…. It felt like it was there for the taking, and it just slipped away. That stuff’s going to happen sometimes.
Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock felt the score of Game 2 was not a good indication of how his team played.
I thought Game 1 we were no good, I thought Game 2 we were way better than the score indicated, to be honest with you, Babcock said. I thought we started good in that game and it didn’t go our way, it kind of came unraveled. I thought (Monday) we had a better push. Our goaltender (Frederik Andersen) kind of part way through the game really settled in and got playing the way he’s capable of playing.
That made a huge difference for us. Obviously, our fans and our building, we had last change, all those things.
Maple Leafs center Leo Komarov is expected to miss his second straight game Thursday after leaving Game 2 with a lower-body injury. That means center Dominic Moore likely will be in the lineup again.