Game 4 preview: Lightning look to take commanding lead over Bruins

TV: NBC Sports

TIME: 7 p.m.

BOSTON — Jon Cooper was asked after Game 3 what his team has done to turn around its series with the Boston Bruins.

“These guys, they just find a way,” the Tampa Bay coach said after a 4-1 road victory gave the Lightning a 2-1 lead in the Eastern Conference semifinal. “I guess in the end, they’re putting the team first, putting the team before self. That’s what’s going on right now.”

The Lightning, who captured the Atlantic Division and overall conference record by a point over the Bruins in the final days of the regular season, surrendered home-ice advantage with a 6-2 loss in the opener. But Wednesday night, they grabbed it back and can now establish a stranglehold on the series with a win in Game 4 on Friday night.

Wednesday was the 55th time the franchise played at TD Garden — and became just its 10th win. But that historical stat seems to mean nothing to this team, which is now 6-2 in the playoffs.

“I think the same thing we did the game before and what I felt a lot of the game before that,” Cooper said of the Game 3 performance. “We’re in a playoff series and we’re playing like that. We’re skating. We’re physically engaged. They’re just playing responsible. That’s what they’re doing.”

Ondrej Palat, who scored twice in the first 3:19 of the game, was not on the ice for practice at the Bruins’ practice facility Thursday, but there was no report. Ryan Callahan, who has played such a strong two-way game in the series, took Palat’s spot on the power play in practice.

Palat’s early outburst marked the fastest two goals by the same player at the start of a playoff game since 1996.

Boston’s Brad Marchand and Jake DeBrusk rested on “maintenance days” Thursday and are apparently not totally healthy. Coach Bruce Cassidy said they will be evaluated Friday morning.

There was also a very good chance that rookie Ryan Donato could be among those added to the mix as Cassidy looks to “tinker” with his lineup.

“They were maintenance days, so we’ll see how they are in the morning. I assume they’ll be fine tomorrow (for Game 4), but we’ll see then,” Cassidy said. “We’ll assess them in the morning, and we’ll probably tinker (with the lineup), but I’m not going to tell you who is going in or out now because we’ve got to get the healthy guys sorted out first, and then we’ll go from there.”

After Wednesday’s game, the coach said, “We need to defend better, and part of that is intensity. My estimation, urgency, pick you word. We didn’t have it. You’ve got to manage the puck first, and then once you don’t have it anymore, you’ve got to have a certain level of structure and urgency to get it back, and we didn’t.

“As the game went along, I think the will is there with the group; I don’t doubt that. They’re trying to be physical; they’re trying to play hard, but at the end of the day we made some mistakes in front of our net.

“We’ve got to get back to, OK, what made us successful and play smart hockey, and the intensity will come. The group has a lot of will. I think we put one in front of the other, forgot to play a little bit.”

Yanni Gourde became the second Lightning player to enjoy the birth of a child during the playoffs. Gourde’s baby girl was born Tuesday. He made it to Boston in time for the Wednesday morning skate and had an assist in the win.

Steven Stamkos scored his first goal of the series Wednesday. It was into an empty net, but the Lightning have to feel good about their best player and captain hitting the score sheet. It was his second goal in eight playoff games, but he has five assists.