Tampa Bay Lightning Just Need to Win One Game: Game Five Thursday Night

(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) /

After being the better team for the most part of their last two games, the Tampa Bay Lightning find themselves on the brink of elimination at the hands of the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Lightning snatched defeat from the jaws of victory by blowing a three goal lead in game four and dropping their second straight game in OT as they could have just as easily been up 3-1 in the series.

There is nothing that can be done now to change the gutting result of the last two games. While the Lightning ultimately need to win three straight games to keep their season alive, all they need to do right now is win just one game and that is game five in Toronto on Thursday night.

If Tampa Bay can just win this one game, they can start to plant the seed of doubt in Leaf nation. If Tampa Bay can bring the series back to Tampa Bay then anything is possible. After all, they have to be pretty happy overall with how they played at home despite not getting the results. If they can just get back home one more time then they certainly have to like their chances of forcing a seventh game.

Game five is the chance for Toronto to win their fourth consecutive game over the Lightning in the series. Beating Tampa Bay in four games out of seven is a tremendous challenge, let along four straight. On top of that, the fourth win will always be the toughest one to get and the Lightning will be an incredibly tough team to bury.

One thing on the Lightning’s side is that Toronto has lost 10 straight opportunities to clinch a playoff series. Until they have four wins, this series is far from over. Toronto’s record in these series clinching games is part of the reason that the aforementioned “seed of doubt” could be so big. If Toronto drops game five, the “here we go again” feelings will start to creep in and the pressure will mount more  and more on them by the second.

The Lightning will need the best performance of the series from Andrei Vasilevskiy. The blame for the three straight losses is not on him as many of the goals against have been impossible stops to make. Regardless, his save percentage in the last three games is below .900. That ultimately cannot cut it in the Stanley Cup Playoffs regardless of the difficulty of shots against. If the Lightning are going to prolong this thing another night, expect the best performance of the series from their netminder.

Tampa Bay cannot make up the 3-1 deficit in one night but it all starts on Thursday by just winning one game. From that point on, anything is possible.  All of the pressure is still on Toronto and Tampa Bay has nothing to lose. Anything other than their best performance of the season would be extremely disappointing.

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