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Kucherov, Lightning beat Devils 3-1, end first-round series

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”You need your best players to be the best players, and they rose to the occasion,” coach Jon Cooper said Saturday after the top seed in the Eastern Conference beat the New Jersey Devils 3-1, ending their first-round series in five games.cheap wholesale nike nfl jerseys

”People are going to look at this series and say: ‘Oh, 4-1. Tampa took it to them.’ Anybody that was actually watching these games knew clearly that’s not what happened in this series,” Cooper added. ”It was fought from the drop of the puck to the end. We just happened to get big goals at the right time.”

Nikita Kucherov scored his 27th career postseason goal and Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 26 shots for the Lightning, who advanced to a second-round matchup against either the Boston Bruins or Toronto Maple Leafs.

Kucherov, the NHL’s third-leading scorer during the regular season with 100 points, had five goals and five assists in the five games, setting a franchise for points in a playoff series. He also tied Vincent Lecavalier for second-place on the club’s all-time postseason scoring list.279

”I thought he elevated (his play) throughout the series, no question,” Cooper said of the 24-year-old, two-time All-Star, who has 27 goals and 25 assists in 50 career playoff games.

”He’s an extreme competitor,” New Jersey coach John Hynes said. ”When you look at a guy like Kucherov, he has talent but he’s not a perimeter player. He’s very strong on the puck, he competes hard, he’s got good hockey sense. He’s the type of offensive player you need to have success if you’re going to have a chance to win the Stanley Cup.”

Mikhail Sergachev became the youngest player in Lightning history to score a playoff goal and Ryan Callahan, back in the lineup after missing the previous two games with an upper-body injury, sealed it with an empty-netter for the Atlantic Division champions with 1.7 seconds remaining.

”Feels great, especially at home in front of our fans,” Kucherov said. ”I think we played well defensively, and teams that play well defensively move forward.”

Tampa Bay won the first two games at home before splitting a pair of the road, cheap nike jerseys nfl returning to Amalie Arena after Kucherov had two goals and an assist to key a 3-1 victory in Game 4

The right winger’s sizzling shot past goalie Cory Schneider put the Lightning up 2-0 at 12:27 of the third period of the clincher.

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