Lightning coach Cooper: 'We couldn't find our game'
In the aftermath of a stunning ouster in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Tampa Bay Lightning coach Jon Cooper said his team lost the momentum built during the regular season and never recovered.
In just 10 days, the Lightning went from No. 1 to done.
When the season ended on April 6, the Lightning had 62 wins, tied for most-ever in NHL history. On Tuesday night, the Lightning were out of the playoffs, outscored 19-8 by the Columbus Blue Jackets in a four-game sweep.
"When you have the amount of points we had, it's a blessing and a curse, in a way. You don't play any meaningful hockey for a long time. Then all of a sudden, you have to ramp it up. It's not an excuse. It's reality," Cooper said after Game 4. "That's how it goes. You have a historic regular season, and we had a historic playoff."
The Lightning had 128 points on the season, but when the horn sounded Tuesday to end Game 4 in a 7-3 defeat, none of that mattered. They became the first squad to lead the NHL in points and not win a game in a seven-game, opening-round series.
"If we had the answers, we would have found a way to win a game. It sucks," Tampa Bay captain Steven Stamkos said.
The Lightning never found an answer for Blue Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, who had a .932 save percentage. Tampa's goalie, Andrei Vasilevskiy had a series save percentage of .856 and a 3.82 goals-against average.
In the regular season, Vasilevskiy posted a .925 save percentage and a 2.40 GAA.
The Lightning also converted just one of six power-play chances into a goal, and the Blue Jackets scored on five of 10 opportunities.
Cooper offered no excuses.
"We couldn't find our game. It's that clear. For six days in April, we couldn't find it," Cooper said. "It's unfortunate because it puts a blemish on what was one helluva regular season."
--Field Level Media
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