Sunday December 3, 2023

The High-Priced Lightning Are Nearly Unbeatable After Loss

  • Tampa is 15-0 following postseason defeats dating back to the 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs.
  • The defending Cup champions evened their best-of-seven series with the Maple Leafs at 1-1.
John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
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The Lightning specialize in bouncing back — which will make them a hard postseason out as they seek a third consecutive Stanley Cup.

On Wednesday, Tampa defeated the Maple Leafs 5-3 to even their series at one. The Bolts are now 15-0 following a postseason loss, a streak going back to the 2020 playoffs.

On a team with the NHL’s highest payroll ($108M), the Bolts’ big-money stars played a big part in righting the ship — especially netminder Andrei Vasilevskiy, who has been in goal for all of Tampa’s bounce-back wins. 

  • He notched postseason win No. 50, joining Marc-Andre Fleury (91) and Braden Holtby (50) as the only active goalies with at least 50.
  • Vasilevskiy ($9.5M cap hit, T15 in NHL) has a 1.31 goals-against average, .948 save percentage, and five shutouts following a playoff loss since 2020.
  • Nikita Kucherov ($9.5M, T15) added a goal and two assists to his 130 points (45 goals, 85 assists) over 115 postseason games.
  • Victor Hedman ($7.9M, 47) set a franchise record for points by a defenseman in a playoff game (goal, three assists) and leads active blue-liners in the postseason (134).

The Lightning now enjoy home-ice advantage for Friday’s Game 3 as they look to become the first team to win three Cups in a row since the 1980-83 Islanders. 

But the Bolts haven’t quite bounced back yet with oddsmakers: Tampa is the sixth-favorite (+1100) to win the championship, just behind Toronto (+900).

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