Lightning’s Palat have a knack for delivering in the playoffs



Tampa Bay Lightning left winger Ondrej Palat (18, right) shoots after rounding New York Rangers center Andrew Copp in the second period of Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs of Hockey NHL, Sunday, June 5, 2022, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)


Ondrej Palat’s role in the Tampa Bay Lightning’s success doesn’t get much attention.

However, the star-laden two-time defending Stanley Cup champion dismisses the idea that he isn’t one of their best players.

A quiet, reserved forward who is part of the core of a team making the sixth Eastern Conference Finals in eight years, the Czech Republic native has a knack for rising to the occasion when the Lightning have it. most needed.

The 31-year-old’s goal with 42 seconds left in Game 3 beat the New York Rangers 3-2 and cut Tampa Bay’s deficit to 2-1 in the best-of-seven series which continues Tuesday night at the Amalia Arena.

It was Palat’s 10th career playoff game-winning goal, breaking the franchise record he previously shared with Tyler Johnson. The only active NHL players with more are Joe Pavelski (14), Evgeni Malkin (13), Jonathan Toews (11) and Patrick Kane (11).

Browse the Lightning roster and you’ll find bigger names like Nikita Kucherov, Steven Stamkos, Victor Hedman, Andrei Vasilevskiy, Ryan McDonagh and Corey Perry. However, Palat has repeatedly proven his worth to the Lightning over the past decade.

“We have seen this for years. He’s a great boy. He does not say anything. All he does is give you his all every shift,” coach Jon Cooper said.

“He’s played up and down the lineup, but he has the ability to play this blue collar game with white collars and that’s a great trait to have,” Cooper added. “He does…and he’s usually the third guy talked about on the lines he plays on. But he gets away with it.”

In a game where Kucherov became the first Tampa Bay player to reach 50 playoff goals, Palat scored his 43rd on a backhand pass from his most-heralded teammate, who also got an assist on Stamkos’ tying goal. at the start of the third period.

Kucherov, Stamkos and Palat, who took his points total to 83 in 129 playoff games, tied the team lead in playoff goals with six.

“After the second period we were pretty quiet in the room and we knew we were playing pretty good 5-on-5 and we just wanted to keep going, throw the puck and eventually we knew we were going to score, and we did,” said said Palat, who beat Rangers keeper Igor Shesterkin from the bottom right circle.

“He’s a great goalie, and the first two games we didn’t shoot enough,” Palat said. “So the message was, we need to shoot more. We need to get in front of his eyes a bit more, and I think we did.

The Lightning outshot Rangers 52-30, playing with a sense of desperation after losing the first two games of the series on the road.

Cooper said it would be a mistake, however, to assume the Game 3 win turned the streak upside down.

The Rangers still hold a 2-1 lead and a win Tuesday night would put them within a win of their first trip to the Stanley Cup Finals since 2014.

“This game probably had overtime written all over it, and who knows what will happen next,” Cooper said.

New York has a pretty good idea of ​​how the Lightning feel heading into Game 4.

The Rangers rallied from a 3-1 deficit to knock out the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round. They lost the first two games to Carolina and trailed 3-2 before bouncing back to oust the Hurricanes in seven games to reach the Eastern Finals.

“You have to prepare one game at a time,” Rangers coach Gerard Gallant said, confident his team will bounce back.

Gallant ignored the question of whether New York could capitalize on its experience from the last two rounds to prevent the Lightning from rushing against the Rangers.

“You would, but Tampa is a good team. They were 2-0 down going home, so we knew they were going to play their best game, and they did. They competed very hard. They had 50 shots. They won a lot of loose puck battles and played a tough game,” Gallant said.

“We still had a chance to win this game, but we didn’t,” added the New York coach. “Again, we know they won’t give you anything for nothing. They’ve won, what, 10 series in a row? We will have to be a very good team and be inspired by it. »


More AP NHL: and


Comments are closed.