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NHL Playoff Game Night: 4-16-18 Lightning at Devils

Lightning miss an opportunity to put the Devils firmly behind the eight ball.

Eastern Conference Quarterfinals

TB-2
NJ-5

Tampa Bay Leads the Series 2-1

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 3 goals on 39 shots for the loss. Despite the outcome, I thought he played pretty well. He's rounding into form nicely in this series, in my opinion.

First Period
NO SCORING

Second Period
0:42 TB Killorn (4), (Kucherov, Stamkos)(PP)
12:24 NJ Hall (2), (unassisted)

Third Period
0:38 TB Stamkos (1), (Kucherov, Killorn)(PP)
4:03 NJ Butcher (1), (Hall, Palmieri)(PP)
12:55 NJ Noesen (1), (Hall, Greene)
19:02 NJ Coleman (2), (unassisted)(SH)(EN)
19:22 NJ Lovejoy (1), (unassisted)(EN)

The Lightning played this game right along the lines of the blueprint they needed to all the way up until 2:39 into the Third Period when Cedric Paquette took a stupid slewfooting call that was promptly followed up by a too many men call on the PK. They threw New Jersey a lifeline with a 5-on-3 goal and the rest is history. This isn't complex: if the Lightning stay disciplined and manage the puck well New Jersey can't beat them. When you gift goals on weak clears (the first goal), take stupid penalties (the second goal), or fail to sort out coverage assignments despite having a numerical advantage defending the rush (the third goal), that's how you throw the Devils a lifeline and give them an upset opportunity.

With all that said, I think the Lightning controlled the balance of this game and are still perfectly capable of picking off Game Four to get the split they wanted out of this trip north before heading home for Game Five. They just have to stick to the formula and not get too preoccupied with New Jersey's fake tough guy shenanigans they tried to pull at the end of this game. The Lightning need to ignore that and stick to playing measured, cerebral hockey.

Speaking of which: perhaps someone at the league office can explain to me how Blake Coleman was allowed to act like he had a concussion late in the Third Period to draw a call on Mikhail Sergachev and yet didn't have to go to the quiet room. Can anyone explain that to me? Didn't miss a shift. So, either the New Jersey medical staff allowed a concussed player back on the rink immediately or he deserves an Academy Award for that acting performance. You make the call, folks. I found the whole affair to be pretty revealing of Coleman's character and the Devils organization's character, frankly.

Anthony Cirelli was -1 with 1 shot, 2 hits, and 2 blocked shots in 15:48. He was also 38% on 13 draws.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.