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Maroon uses blue language to describe Lightning’s despair


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TAMPA, Fla. — Pat Maroon couldn’t help it.

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When asked what the Tampa Bay Lightning need to do before a do-or-die fifth game against the Colorado Avalanche, the 6-foot-3 forward refused to mince words.

“We have to go and win a fucking game right now,” he said. “Sorry. We have to go and win a game. Right now our target is Game 5, and we have to go and win. I mean, there’s really nothing we can do.

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That’s all the Lightning can do. And while history isn’t on their side – teams leading 3-1 in the Stanley Cup Finals are 35-1, the last being in 1942, when the Toronto Maple Leafs returned after losing 3-0 to the Detroit Red Wings. — this isn’t the first time the Lightning have been left for dead.

They trailed 3-2 in a first-round series against the Leafs and lost 2-0 to the New York Rangers in the Eastern Finals. Still, the hole the Lightning have to dig for themselves is considerably bigger.

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“You turn the page and like let’s go,” Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said. “So this mountain is a little higher. Well, at least we’re still climbing. We are not eliminated, and good (whatever) 3-1 (against Colorado) or 3-2 against Toronto. What is the difference ? We still have to go on the road and win a hockey game. We were going to have to win a game on the road anyway. We had no ice cream at home. So why not tomorrow?

“We have a proud group, because that’s why we are in a third consecutive final. And it takes more than talent to get to where we are and do what this group of players did. And pride is a big, big part of that. But listen, we’re still kicking. Our pride will return, but as I said, this group is more than a group of talented hockey players.

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On the other end, the Avalanche are a team that was able to wrap up the series quite easily. They swept the Predators and Oilers but needed an extra game to finish off the Blues after leading 3-1.

“I liked the way we finished the series,” Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar said. “I think the toughest one and the one we had to bounce back from against the Blues was a very tough home loss and we went there to their building and played really well. And then the other series in Edmonton, we had to come from behind in Game 4 and we did a good job of sticking with the effort and playing with our identity. Really, all through the playoffs, we tried to do that. Some nights are better than others. But I don’t see why we wouldn’t go out and try to play with our identity.

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KADRI’S PLAYOFFS PEDIGREE GROWS AFTER HIS WINNER

A day later, the Avalanche continued to praise heart-and-soul forward Nazem Kadri, who came back from a broken thumb and played the overtime hero in Game 4.

Not that anyone was surprised.

Kadri, who has seven goals and 15 points in 14 games, was a playoff force, especially in a second-round win over St. Louis, where he scored a hat-trick and led the team with four. goals in six games.

“He’s just been very consistent for us,” defender Cale Makar said. “Obviously he got injured there and last night I feel like he played his part well and was able to keep his feet moving for most of the game. So you can’t ask for much more than that from a guy coming back from a few weeks off.

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Forward Darren Helm added: “Yeah he was great last night. He’s been great every time he’s stepped on the ice, before his injury or not. He brings a lot of energy and he’s a great player. He’s scored a lot of big playoff goals and obviously last night was the biggest.

LIGHTNING COULD BE SHORT HANDED FOR GAME 5

If the Lightning are going to force a Game 6, they may have to do it shorthanded.

Defenseman Erik Cernak left the field in the second period on Wednesday after blocking a Nathan MacKinnon shot. But a bigger loss could come if center stop Anthony Cirelli – whose arm appears to have been severed by teammate Alex Killorn’s skate – joins Brayden Point on the injured list.

“We’ll see it’s a quick turnaround and so I haven’t seen Tony. I’ll have an update for you tomorrow though,” said Cooper, who also had no update on Point. “Again yeah, let’s get back to that tomorrow.”

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As for the defense, Cooper was happy with how they responded without Cernak.

“They did well, but that’s what hurts is when you lose a ‘D’ and an important player in our team as the game goes on, just the minutes add up, but our guys have done well. It’s like I said, we were missing one, let’s try not to miss tomorrow night.

IS RANTANEN A CANDIDATE FOR CONN SMYTHE?

With 25 points in these playoffs – including eight assists in the Stanley Cup Final – Mikko Rantanen is making the case for the Conn Smythe Trophy.

“I think he plays to his strengths,” Bednar said. “He was strong with the puck and played with guys on their backs and heads held high and found teammates when they were open and shot the puck really well…I like the mix of what he do.”

mtraikos@postmedia.com

twitter.com/Michael_Traikos

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