Jon Cooper issues ultimatum to Lightning players as risk of sweep looms after Game 3 loss to Panthers

NHL: Tampa Bay Lightning at Florida Panthers
Jon Cooper issues striking ultimatum to Lightning players as risk of sweep looms after Game 3 loss to Panthers

HC Jon Cooper and the Tampa Bay Lightning are on the verge of being swept by their division rivals, the Florida Panthers, following a 5-3 loss in Game 3 on Thursday night. The Bolts trail the Panthers 3-0 in Round 1 of a seven-game series.

The Lightning have traditionally been a formidable opponent in the playoffs. However, this year, there seems to be a shift in the team's confidence and belief. Thus, Coach Cooper, in a post-game media interaction, issued an ultimatum to his players asking them not to turn up for practice if they didn't believe they could win.

"It's tough when you get in situations like this and what you're going to say right at this moment," Jon Cooper said. "The big talk was we want the believers to show up to the rink tomorrow and, if you are not going to believe, then, you don't have to come, so we will see how many guys show up tomorrow"

The Bolts have managed to score only a few goals on power plays in the series, resulting in coach Cooper expressing disappointment in the team's performance when having the man advantage.

In Game 3, the Lightning had several opportunities with four power plays totaling eight minutes, but the team couldn't capitalize on them effectively.

Jon Cooper highlighted the importance of converting those chances, especially in close games where a powerplay goal could have made a significant difference:

"We've had a couple of power-play goals in the series, but if you're going to give us eight minutes, we've got to do something with it. And we didn't. In a one-goal game, that might've helped us out.
"We haven't been sharp in powerplays as we could've been," Cooper added. "Ultimately, we did score a power-play goal, and we toe-picked at the blue line and it took us offside. Little things in the game like that just didn't go our way. And that's the tough part because that would've been the goal we needed and it didn't count."

Jon Cooper and the Tampa Bay Lightning host the Florida Panthers in Game 4 at home on Saturday.

Jon Cooper and the Lightning lose to Panthers in Game 3

Matthew Tkachuk notched up two goals, Brandon Montour and Steve Lorentz accumulated two points, and Sam Reinhart scored once in the Panthers' 5-3 win.

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Florida Panthers at Tampa Bay Lightning
NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Florida Panthers at Tampa Bay Lightning

Sergei Bobrovsky made 26 saves between the pipes and pushed the Lightning to the brink of elimination after leading the best of seven-game series 3-0.

For Tampa Bay, Tyler Motte, Steven Stamkos, and Nicholas Paul were the scorers in the matchup. Meanwhile, Andrei Vasilevskiy ended the night with 26 saves for the Bolts.

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