We said that this game would be a huge indication of the Lightning’s mental strength. They showed their resiliency today in a commanding 8-2 victory that saw Steven Stamkos finally enter the series with two goals.
There was no scoring for the majority of the first period, but then Tampa scored twice within a minute to take a quick lead. They then began the second just as they ended the first, and the rain poured as they chased Marc-Andre Fleury in the second period.
That could do a lot for the Lightning’s confidence. In the games that they have won, the Lightning have dominated. They have won by multiple goals, while the Penguins have had to grind out closer victories. This doesn’t mean much, since all means count the same, but it does show that if the Lightning force the Pens to play their game, they win. When they play the Pens’ game, they have a better chance of losing.
Now the series will shift back to Tampa. Oddly enough, the Lightning have only won on the road so far. This can happen with new playoff teams because they can feel so much pressure to win at home. On the road, they are taken away from all other distractions and can focus only on the game. At home, they have to worry about their everyday lives.
Still, if the crowd at St. Pete Times Forum is rocking anything like it was in the first two games in Florida, the Bolts should get a good boost. They proved themselves with their backs against the walls today, and they have to think about only Monday’s game. If they try to think ahead to a possible Game 7, they will lose.
This is how you make a comeback. You focus on one goal at a time, one period at a time, one game at a time. Should they do that, the Lightning can easily take this series the distance.