If the Tampa Bay Lightning are going to advance to the Stanley Cup Final, they’ll have to play like a completely different team than the one that showed up against the Washington Capitals in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final.
“The Tampa players should be ashamed of themselves,” Don Cherry said Saturday during the Coach’s Corner segment on Hockey Night in Canada. “I picked Tampa to be in the finals. They should be ashamed of themselves. To come out playing like that is unbelievable.”
The Lightning were flat and registered a paltry 21 shots, 11 of which came in the final frame when the game was already out of reach. Cherry added that they can’t afford to play like that against a streaking Capitals team led by Alex Ovechkin and Braden Holtby.
“Ovie, I could tell right off the bat, he’s on a mission right now. So is Holtby,” Cherry said. “[Ovechkin’s] ready to go. He does not want to get beat out again. … This guy is on a mission right now and they’re going to be tough to beat. Tampa should be ashamed of themself the way they played. Two shots in the first period. Ridiculous.”
If mustering only two shots in a period at home wasn’t bad enough, by the time they registered their fourth shot on net Washington already had four goals on the board.
The final score ended up being 4-2, and it is just one game in a seven-game series after all, but suffice it to say Lightning head coach Jon Cooper was disappointed in his team’s effort.
“They were playing an Eastern Conference Final and we were playing Game 38,” he told reporters after the game. “That’s basically what it was. … We’re in a conference final and we didn’t treat it that way. I’m not taking anything away from Washington. They came out and executed their game plan. Played simple and earned their breaks. And we didn’t.”
Game 2 takes place Sunday night. Fans can watch the game on Sportsnet with coverage beginning at 7:30 p.m. ET.