The Predators

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The Predators

Сообщение hongwei28 23 авг 2018, 06:57

Captain Steven Stamkos and high-scoring Nikita Kucherov garner lots of attention. However Devin Hester Bears Jersey , the Tampa Bay Lightning are hardly a two-man show.

The top seed in the Eastern Conference got early goals from four players – none of them named Stamkos or Kucherov – before holding off the New Jersey Devils for a 5-2 victory Thursday night in Game 1 of the first-round series.

Ondrej Palat, Tyler Johnson and Yanni Gourde scored, helping the Lightning build a 3-0 lead that New Jersey trimmed to one goal before Alex Killorn and Kucherov, who added an empty-netter with 1:12 remaining, finished off the win before a crowd of 19,092.

”Not the outcome we wanted,” Devils goalie Keith Kinkaid said ”That’s why it’s a series and not a game.”

Taylor Hall scored an unassisted goal off a turnover in the second period, then assisted on Travis Zajac’s power-play goal that trimmed the Devils’ deficit to 3-2 midway through third against Andrei Vasilevskiy, who had 29 saves for Tampa Bay, which held off Boston in the final week of the season for the best record in the East.

For the Devils, a shaky opening period was too much to overcome.

”I don’t know what happened. That’s the way hockey goes sometimes. Starting on time is a big part of hockey, and especially playoff hockey,” Hall said. ”We have to be a team that’s ready to battle right off the bat and just be aware that they have more than one line; more than Stamkos and Kucherov. They have a lot of dangerous guys and we have to be aware.”

The line of Palat, Johnson and Brayden Point, matched up against New Jersey’s top line, produced a pair of first-period goals and finished with six points.

Killorn’s shot over Kincaid’s glove restored a two-goal lead before Kucherov Cheap Isaiah Oliver Jersey , who led the Lightning with 100 points this season, ensured there would be no comeback.

”I thought we played really well. I thought we played within our structure,” said Johnson, who also had an assist on Palat’s goal. ”You’ve got to give Jersey credit. They pushed in that second period. That third period, I thought we took it back over. `If we continue to play like that, I like our chances this series.”

Game 2 is Saturday at Amalie Arena.

Tampa Bay beat the Devils for the first time this year. The Devils won all three meetings between the teams during the regular season, with each game decided by one goal.

Kinkaid entered his first career playoff game as one of the hottest goalies in the league, going 7-0-1 over his last eight starts to help New Jersey grab its first playoff berth since the Devils reached the Stanley Cup Finals in 2012.

The Lightning, on the other hand, have been driven all season by failing to make the playoffs last spring after making deep runs previous two years.

With Kucherov and Stamkos leading the way, Tampa Bay paced the NHL in scoring and Vasilevskiy set a franchise record and tied for the league lead with 44 victories in his first season as a No. 1 goaltender.

But after reaching the Stanley Cup Finals in 2015 and coming within one victory of a return trip two years ago, this season ultimately will be judged on whether the Lightning can put together another strong bid to win it all.

”Last year was the first year that I missed the playoffs in any league. I’ve never had a long summer like that and that summer felt like forever,” said Johnson, who has 22 goals in 48 career playoff games.

”So I’m glad where we’re at right now. I’m excited to be back at this time,” Johnson added. ”It’s the best hockey. It’s the most fun you can play in.”

While the Devils did a nice job of containing the high-scoring Kucherov and Stamkos, Palat Aaron Rodgers Jersey Elite , Johnson, Killorn and Gourde, who set a Lightning rookie record with 25 goals this season, showed why it’s so difficult to totally shut down Tampa Bay’s offense.

The momentum shifted on New Jersey’s first power-play opportunity. Even though the Devils didn’t score, they got off five shots against Vasilevskiy, who weathered the barrage before Hall broke through after Palat turned the puck over in the Lightning zone.

”We looked a little bit tentative, a little bit unsure, but I thought we settled into the game, particularly in the second period,” Devils coach John Hynes said. ”I thought the second half of the game was a little more of how we wanted to play. We’ll regroup and we’ll be a better team Saturday.”

Notes: Stamkos returned to Tampa Bay’s lineup after missing the final three games of the regular season with a lower body injury. … It’s the third time the Devils and Lightning have met in the playoffs. New Jersey won both previous series, advancing in the 2003 Eastern Conference semifinals in five games and ending a 2007 quarterfinal matchup in six. … Zajac and captain Andy Greene are the only players remaining on New Jersey’s roster from the Devils’ 2012 postseason run.



Dick LeBeau vs. Bill Belichick.

Doesn’t get much better than that for NFL fans. Tennessee linebacker Wesley Woodyard believes the rare matchup is a showdown for the ages.

”Oh man, it’s going to be a battle of the masterminds,” Woodyard said when the Titans defensive coordinator tries to outwit Belichick and his New England Patriots.

”Two Hall of Fame coaches, I’m sure Belichick will be there hands down. Coach LeBeau’s seen a lot, coached a lot of playoff games, so we’re relying heavily on his experience and to go out there and play hard man. That’s all we can do for our coach.”

Well Authentic James Shields Jersey , LeBeau is only in the Pro Football Hall of Fame for his 14-season career as a cornerback, though he certainly qualifies for consideration for designing the zone blitz on defense. LeBeau also has an NFL-record 45 consecutive seasons as a coach, putting ahead of only one man – Belichick with 43 – in that category.

The two will be very instrumental in determining the outcome on Saturday night when the upstart Titans (10-7) visit Belichick and his defending Super Bowl champion Patriots (13-3) for a spot in the AFC championship game.

And Belichick made it very clear that coaching against LeBeau is not something he enjoys.

”I wouldn’t use that word, no,” Belichick said. ”It’s very challenging. Coach LeBeau is a great coach, he does a tremendous job, (he) has for his entire illustrious career as a player and as a coach. Really revolutionized the game, and his system has certainly withstood the test of time.”

Belichick ticked off how LeBeau’s Titans have led the NFL in rushing defense over the past two seasons and led the league this season for the fewest big plays allowed of 20 yards or longer. Belichick says the foundation of LeBeau’s defense remains the same over the years, modified for the players he has and the teams he’s facing.

The man with five Super Bowl titles as head coach in New England made clear he has great respect for LeBeau, whom he considers a good friend.

”He’s such a great person, very humble guy that accomplished so much but he’s very modest about it,” Belichick said. ”I learn an awful lot from watching him, watching his defenses and watching the way that he does things. Techniques and adjustments and schematics and so forth. He’s one of the great coaches to ever walk the sidelines in this league.”

Told that Belichick said he learned a lot from him, LeBeau said he was humbled.

”Not very many coaches have the record Coach Belichick’s gotten, in fact he’s probably closing in on the best ever,” LeBeau said Wednesday. ”That’s quite a compliment.”

The two haven’t coached against each other in the playoffs but once before with Belichick overseeing the Patriots. LeBeau and the Pittsburgh Steelers won home-field advantage in 2004 by beating the Patriots 34-20 on Oct. 31 Christian Kirk Jersey , then Belichick and New England won the AFC conference championship Jan. 23, 2005, beating the Steelers 41-27.

”It’ll be interesting to see how it comes out,” LeBeau said.

LeBeau said preparing for a Belichick-coached team means understanding the players won’t beat themselves. Add in Tom Brady, one of the best quarterbacks ever to play the game makes the Patriots always a formidable opponent, according to LeBeau.

The Titans trust that LeBeau, who turned 80 the day before this season opened in September, will put them where they need to be. Titans linebacker Derrick Morgan said that’s what LeBeau did in the second half of the Titans’ upset of Kansas City 22-21 in the wild-card game. The Titans allowed only 61 yards total offense and no points in the final 30 minutes.

”He has all the experience in the world, probably been to 50 playoff games give or take,” Morgan said. ”We have a lot of confidence in him that he’s going to put us in the right positions.”

After kickoff, LeBeau said both coaches will be focused only on what’s happening on the field.

”Once we walk on that field,” LeBeau said, ”we won’t know who the hell’s on the other side of the field to be honest with you.”

Everyone else will know.



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