Lightning bolt that does not give up after the “heartbreaking” defeat in Race 4 of the Cup final

PRINT – Jon Cooper fought back tears as he sat down for his post-match media availability after the Tampa Bay Lightning lost 3-2 in extra time to the Colorado Avalanche in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final at Amalie Arena in Wednesday.

There he is, with excitement abuzz with his team, which have won the Cup in each of the previous two seasons, on the verge of elimination under 3-1 in the best-of-7 series.

“I’ve been part of some heartbreaking defeats and losses against teams that have eliminated us and have been with a group that fights, fights and fights,” the Lightning manager said. “And they fought for the third consecutive Stanley Cup final.

“And in a (salary) era you know when … when that’s the case [darn] tough and the rules are put against you because the League wants parity, and I like this about the League. And that’s what makes it more difficult. “

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Cooper then insinuated the winning goal, scored by striker Avalanche Nazem Kadri at 12:02 of overtime, he shouldn’t have counted but didn’t say why.

“You’ll see what I mean when you see the winning goal,” he said. “My heart breaks for the players because we should probably still play.”

Moments later, the normally talkative Cooper apologized. He said he would elaborate more on Thursday.

A later statement released by NHL Hockey Operations indicated the suggestion was that Lightning thought Avalanche had too many men on the ice for Kadri’s goal.

“A penalty by too many men on the ice is a judgment that can be made by any of the four referees on the ice,” reads the note. “After the game, hockey operations met with the four referees as per their normal protocol. In discussing the goal of victory, each of the four referees warned that they did not see too many men on the ice situation during the game.

“This call is not subject to video review by either Hockey Ops or ice officials.”

Even in his limited comments, Cooper was right in his deduction that the search for a three-way peat has certainly become more difficult.

Consider this: Since the start of the 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs, the Lightning are 19-2 in the postseason after a loss. But now there is no more room for maneuver. Win three consecutive games or the season is over.

Video: Kadri, Avalanche take the lead in the 3-1 series with victory in Race 4

The first task at hand is to win Game 5 at the Denver Ball Arena on Friday (8pm ET: ABC, ESPN +, CBC, SN, TVAS). There is no way to look further, Captain of Tampa Bay Steven Stamkos She said. As cliché as it may be, it’s now a game, a period, a turn at a time.

“Listen, it is extremely difficult to reach this position,” the striker said, his voice a mixture of frustration and exasperation. “Besides, when your back is against the wall, in the end, it’s the hardest mountain to climb. So, there’s nothing to lose.

“Now we have to go out and do our season’s match next game, so we know it’s going to be tough. We know they’re a great team over there, but it’s not like we’re going to quit. And like I said (before), the guys sacrificed like that. just to get to this position, so we will reorganize here. “

Tampa Bay’s goal of returning to Colorado with stuck streak two games apiece vanished when Kadri scored. It was the 13th overtime shot; the Lightning had three.

They got into a habit of being resilient during the 2022 playoffs. Tampa Bat followed the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-2 in the Eastern Conference first round best of 7 before winning their last two games. He lost his first two games to the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference Final before taking four straight wins.

As impressive as those results were, Defender of the Lightning Bolt Victor Hedman agreed that this will be the most difficult task to date.

“Obviously being 3-1 down, we’ve never seen him before,” he said. “But if there is one thing I know about this group, it is that we respond well to adversity. We are a resilient group. We believe in what we have.

“We will take it game after game. There are ups and downs in the playoffs, especially in the final like this one. This is hard to digest.”

Even with lingering bad taste with him and his teammates, Hedman said the Lightning isn’t giving up.

Far from it.

“I don’t know for a wasted opportunity,” he said. “Here we are. The match goes into extra time, they took the break. It’s a tough defeat, but we’re not out of it yet.

“We just have to get up tomorrow, go up there and focus on the one game.”

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