BOSTON (AP) — Lightning coach Jon Cooper came to Boston with a plan to steal back the home-ice advantage that the Bruins took away with their Game 1 win in Tampa.
Now he has bigger goals in mind.
“We can’t exhale,” Cooper said on Thursday, a day after the Lightning beat Boston 4-1 to open a 2-1 lead in the Eastern Conference semifinals. “Just because we picked one up on them, we want to make it where we have three chances to knock them out. When you have that chance, you can’t let it slide.”
Since winning the opener, the Bruins have lost two in a row. On Wednesday night, Ondrej Palat scored twice in the first 3:19 of the game to give the Lightning a lead it never relinquished.
“They outworked us last night, there’s no doubt about it,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said.
Game 4 is Friday night (7 p.m. EDT, NBCSN).
Vegas and San Jose each have a home shutout and a road overtime win through four games of their second-round series. Now it has become a best-of-three for a spot in the Western Conference Final starting with Game 5 (10 p.m. EDT, NBCSN). The Sharks have turned things around completely from Game 1, when they were constantly a step behind the speedier Golden Knights in a 7-0 loss.
San Jose has done a much better job limiting Vegas’ chances since then.
“That 7-0 game was not really us out there,” forward Eric Fehr said. “We changed a lot of things. We came out flat in that game. I think we’ve done a good job of reeling it in and playing the way we can play. That was a game we just threw in the garbage and turned the page.”
Now the Golden Knights will try to do the same after getting thoroughly outplayed in a 4-0 loss in Game 4.
“It’s a good series, there’s no easy night,” goalie Marc-Andre Fleury said. “Nobody thought it was going to be an easy series either. We’re in good shape, 2-2, going home.”
Cassidy fiddled with his lines in practice on Thursday as he tried to find more offense for a team that seemed to have plenty of it in the first-round series against the Maple Leafs. With Brad Marchand and Jake DeBrusk sitting out of practice — Cassidy said he expects them to play on Friday night — Danton Heinen skated with Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak on the first line and Ryan Donato got time with David Krejci on the second.
After scoring 28 goals in seven games against Toronto and six in the Round 2 opener, Boston was held to a single goal each in back-to-back games.
“We’ll probably tinker,” Cassidy said. “I’m not going to tell you who’s going in or who’s going out, because we’ve got to get the healthy guys sorted out first.”
ROOKIES IN THE BOOKS
Lightning forward Anthony Cirelli was the 23rd different rookie to score at least one goal in 56 NHL playoff games this year. That’s already more than in all of last year’s postseason. The NHL record is 38 in 1981, but over the past 30 years the most was 28, in 1990 and again in ’92.
Boston’s Jake DeBrusk has six this year, leading all rookies. Minnesota North Stars forward Dino Ciccarelli scored 14 goals in ’81, the rookie record for a postseason. Penguins forward Jake Guentzel scored 13 last year and matched Ciccarelli’s point total.
AP Sports Writer Josh Dubow contributed to this story from San Jose, California.