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It’s great to play well Jerome Baker Color Rush Jersey , even better to win.
That’s how the Tampa Bay Lightning view a 2-0 series lead over the New Jersey Devils.
”As a coach, you care about everything. You’d like to say you played the perfect game, but somebody else has a vote out there,” coach Jon Cooper said Saturday after a 5-3 victory in Game 2 of the first-round matchup.
”When we wake up tomorrow, you look back and say: `OK, which parts of the game did we do well.’ And we’ll be able to look at a lot of that tape and say we did really well. And we’ll look at some and say that wasn’t so good,” Cooper added. ”I’m pretty sure New Jersey is going to do the exact same thing. It’s the playoffs. There’s going to be battles, there’s going to be swings of momentum, but the big thing for me is who won the game.”
Alex Killorn scored twice during a four-goal second period, and Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 18 shots in the final period to hold off the pesky Devils.
”We did bend a little bit in the third but didn’t break, so it’s a good feeling to be up 2-0,” Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman said. ”You’ve got to win the game. That’s the bottom line.”
The Atlantic Division champions scored three times in a 2:47 span in the second period, and the reeling Devils pulled goalie Keith Kinkaid after Killorn’s third goal in two games made it 5-1 with 6:48 remaining in the period.
Kinkaid, whose stellar play since January helped New Jersey finish strong and claim its first playoff berth since 2012, yielded five goals on 15 shots.
Nikita Kucherov, Brayden Point and Tyler Johnson also scored for Tampa Bay, which is up 2-0 in the series after going 0-2-1 against the Devils during the regular season.
Game 3 is Monday night in Newark, New Jersey.
The Devils have played well in spurts, overcoming slow starts to keep both games interesting.
”There’s a lot of good things in our game to like Authentic Cliff Pennington Jersey ,” Devils leading scorer Taylor Hall said. ”It’s a long series. They still have to win two more to put us out, and we’re going to battle on home ice to get that back.”
Devils coach John Hynes echoed that sentiment.
”We have to embrace the fact that we’re down 2-0,” Hynes said. ”What I mean by that is we can say we had strong pushes in certain things, but I think we did take a step tonight. We have to win one game. We’ve got to play good once, and we’ve got to have that on Monday.”
Vasilevskiy stopped 41 shots, while limiting the Devils to rookie Nico Hischier’s unassisted goal in the opening period and Sami Vatanen’s sixth career playoff goal late in the second before Blake Coleman’s third-period tally trimmed Tampa Bay’s lead to 5-3 with eight minutes left.
Goalie Cory Schneider came off the bench to help the Devils stay in the game with 10 saves, nine in the final period.
Hynes wasn’t ready to discuss whether he’ll change starting goaltenders for the next game. Kinkaid was a big part of New Jersey’s success after Schneider went down with groin and hip injuries in January, earning the right to start his first playoff series.
”I thought Cory came in and played really well,” Hynes said. ”I’m not going to speculate on whether we’re going to use him or not use him.”
Five players scored in the Lightning’s 5-2 victory in Game 1, with just one of the goals coming from the team’s top line of Kucherov, Steven Stamkos and J.T. Miller – Kucherov’s empty-netter with a little over a minute remaining.
Tampa Bay’s second and third lines once again did most of the damage, with Point scoring at 12:15 of the first period and Killorn, Johnson and Kucherov adding goals during a three-minute stretch of the second to build a 4-1 lead.
Both of Killorn’s goals came on power plays. Kucherov’s second of the series deflected off Vatanen’s stick into New Jersey’s net.
Vasilevskiy stopped 29 of 31 shots in the opener and was outstanding again Saturday. New Jersey outshot the Lightning 44-25, including 19-9 over the final 20 minutes.
”We did a great job in the third period. Too little, too late, but I think we showed fight,” Schneider said. ”It is what it is. They’re a good team at home. They protected home ice and now we have to try to go back and do the same in our building.”
Notes: Hirschier was New Jersey’s second-leading scorer during the regular season with 52 points, 41 fewer than Hall. At 19 years, 100 days Saints Marcus Davenport Jersey , he became the youngest player in franchise history to score a playoff goal. … Lightning RW Ryan Callahan left the game late in the second period with an upper body injury and did not return. … Kucherov, Tampa Bay’s leading scorer this season, has 46 points (24 goals, 22 assists) in 47 career playoff games.
Boston playoff star Jayson Tatum and Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue are cousins. The Cavaliers and Celtics might as well be.
The Eastern Conference’s top two teams have been intertwined for more than a year – from a summer blockbuster trade, from opening night, from afar.
Although there were long stretches this season when it seemed at least unlikely, and maybe impossible, that the Celtics and Cavs would reach the conference finals, they’re back again and meeting in the playoffs for the third time in four years.
The series everyone wanted. The one few expected to see.
And yet here they are: the odds-defying Celtics, guided by baby-faced coach Brad Stevens and prospering without injured stars Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward, versus the Cavs, who despite a massive roster makeover in February are rolling as 33-year-old LeBron James enhances his legend with every game.
”There’s been a lot that’s happened throughout the season with us and for them,” Cavs forward Kevin Love said Thursday as Cleveland prepared for Sunday’s series opener in Boston. ”Both teams have raised their level of play and been through it, but are here now and have to lay it all on the line.”
It’s hard to process how much has changed for these teams since they played last May.
Major moves, injuries, upheaval.
After the Cavs beat the Celtics in five games in last year’s conference finals to advance to their third straight NBA Finals, there were no hints the two franchises would ramp up their rivalry with a trade that caught their entire league, well, off-guard.
The Cavs succumbed to Irving’s trade demand – he was tired of playing in James’ shadow – and sent the All-Star to Boston for Isaiah Thomas Dan Bailey Jersey Elite , a first-round draft pick, forward Jae Crowder and center Ante Zizic. The 5-foot-9 Thomas had bravely carried the Celtics in the 2017 postseason despite a balky hip and broken heart following his sister’s death in a car crash.
With so many subplots, the league scheduled Boston at Cleveland in the season opener.
However, Irving’s awkward reunion with James was quickly overshadowed by Hayward, Boston’s big free-agent signing, grotesquely breaking his ankle just feet from the horrified Cavs bench. As Hayward left on a stretcher, the Celtics’ season seemed to be riding to the hospital with him.
Boston, though, showed grit and reeled off 16 straight wins before injuries resurfaced. Marcus Smart had thumb surgery and the Celtics lost Irving, who needed more knee surgery and won’t get a crack at dethroning James.
Irving will watch this series from the bench. Thomas is much farther away.
He spent the first two months in Cleveland trying to get healthy, but wasn’t the same when he came back and never connected with his new teammates.
With Thomas a mess and the season slipping away, Cavs general manager Koby Altman traded him on Feb. 8 to the Lakers for Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. Altman didn’t stop there, dealing Crowder and Derrick Rose to Utah for Rodney Hood, sending Dwyane Wade back to Miami and acquiring point guard George Hill from Sacramento.
Three days after the trade, the new-look Cavs beat the Celtics 121-99 in Boston as Hill, Clarkson and Hood combined for 44 points to the delight of James, who seemed rejuvenated after weeks of moping.
He’s now on a mission as he prepares to face the Celtics for the seventh time in the postseason. James is averaging 34.3 points, 9.4 rebounds and 9.0 assists in 11 games in these playoffs, which has included him making two buzzer-beaters Authentic Rashaan Gaulden Jersey , scoring 45 points in Game 7 to oust Indiana and dispatching Toronto with shocking ease.
”LeBron’s on just a ridiculous run of play,” Stevens said. ”We know that it’ll be quite a challenge.”
The Celtics may not have anyone of James’ stature, but they have a complete team that’s clicking. Tatum and Jaylen Brown are two of the game’s rising young stars and Cleveland native Terry Rozier has emerged as a postseason menace, filling in for Irving and quickly winning over Boston fans, who have dubbed him ”Scary Terry.”
Lue knows the Cavs have their hands full.
”They’re well-coached,” Lue said. ”Despite all the circumstances of guys getting hurt with Kyrie out, with Gordon being out for the whole year, they just keep plugging guys in and keep playing. (Boston executive) Danny Ainge has done a good job of getting guys in that fit that mold of Celtics basketball and they’ve been playing well.”
Especially the 20-year-old Tatum. He averaged 23.6 points in Boston’s series win over the Philadelphia 76ers, who didn’t do enough to slow him down.
That now falls on Lue, who has known Tatum – or ”Little Jay” as he called him – since he was a kid. They’re related on Lue’s grandfather’s side of the family.
”He’s not scared, he’s not afraid and he’s always been that type of kid,” Lue said. ”He wants these type of moments and he’s taking advantage of it. With Kyrie and Gordon going down and him having a chance to play the minutes he’s been playing, starting and playing in the playoffs the way he has, he’s taken full advantage of it. But he’s never been scared, he’s never been afraid of the big moment. You can see that.”
Six years ago, a 14-year-old Tatum posted a picture of himself, wearing a replica Kobe Bryant jersey, with James on Twitter and asked Cleveland’s superstar to follow him.
Lue smiled when shown a picture of his cousin.
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