(Reuters) - The Tampa Bay Lightning let the opening game of the Stanley Cup Final slip away with a passive approach down the stretch, and leaders of the young team said on Thursday a valuable lesson had been learned.
The Lightning built an early 1-0 lead in Wednesday’s game and kept the pressure on the Chicago Blackhawks until late in the second period when they adopted a clampdown style.
The battle-tested Blackhawks, however, kept plugging away and were rewarded with a pair of late goals in a stunning, two-minute span for a come-from-behind 2-1 win in the first game of the best-of-seven championship series.
“We gave a team that is very skilled and talented, knows what to do in those situations, we gave them the puck. They had it too much. The rest is history after that,” Lightning captain Steven Stamkos told reporters.
“We’ll learn from the mistake that we made, maybe sitting back a little too much, letting the game come to us ... I think guys realized the mistake we made and we’ll be better next time in that situation.”
Despite a relentless attack for much of the opening two periods, the Lightning suddenly went into a shell, seemingly content to sit back while the Blackhawks dominated the puck possession battle.
Chicago finally got on the board when Teuvo Teravainen scored through traffic with under seven minutes to play. The Finnish winger then forced a turnover that led to Antoine Vermette’s game-winning goal.
“However the series plays out, you don’t want to look back saying, ‘We were a little bit passive there.’ If you want to make a mistake, do it being aggressive, have that confidence that got us here,” Lightning center Brian Boyle told reporters.
The Lightning, who beat Detroit, Montreal and the top-seeded New York Rangers to reach the Final, are no strangers to playoff adversity after having dropped the opening game in two of their three best-of-seven series along the way.
“We found out if we’re going to play passive in the third period against Chicago it may not work out too well for us,” said Lightning coach Jon Cooper.
“We’re confident in our defensive abilities. We’ve shown it in the playoffs. This team got the better of us last night. We just got to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
Game Two is Saturday in Tampa.
Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Larry Fine