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NHL: Corey Perry: the Cup first and foremost (François Gagnon)

TAMPA — Corey Perry made history Monday night when he scored the Lightning’s sixth and final goal in a 6-2 win over the Avalanche.

Perry became the first player to score at least one goal in the Stanley Cup Finals with four different teams. He did it with the Anaheim Ducks drafting him – 28e first-round selection – in 2003, with the Dallas Stars two years ago, the Canadiens last year and now with the Lightning.

This feat, as interesting as it is, goes far behind the only goal that motivates the veteran with 1,362 games of experience in the NHL, including 186 games played in the playoffs: winning the Stanley Cup.

On the wrong side of the ice last year and two years ago when the Lightning beat the Canadiens and the Stars in the Grand Finals, Perry wants to land on the right side of the ice this year.

And just because he already has a win under his belt – in 2007, Perry scored six goals and had 15 points in 21 games to help the Ducks win over the Ottawa Senators – doesn’t mean Perry would more easily take the slap of losing in the Grand Finals three years in a row.

That no!

“We fight all season with the sole objective of winning the Stanley Cup. And it’s been that way since the very first day I played hockey. On the street, on the rink behind the house, when my parents yelled at us to come in, it was the message that the next goal became the one that won the Stanley Cup. It is still this same goal that still drives me today, ”Corey Perry assured me during the media day held the day before the first game of the final.

At 37, Corey Perry fills a supporting role with the Lightning. He plays in a fourth trio with Pierre-Édouard Bellemare and Pat Maroon.

He is, however, much more than a support player.

As he did last year with the Canadiens, Perry is taking on a leadership role with his new team. He puts his experience at the service of his teammates. And he continues to display the aggressiveness that has always characterized his game.

Victim of a check from behind by defenseman Josh Manson on Monday night, Perry fell heavily against the boards. He remained on the ground for a few seconds. When he got to his feet, as the action unfolded at the other end of the rink, Perry swung his glove against goaltender Darcy Kuemper’s chest protector. It was the second time in three games that Perry tried to distract the opposing goalkeeper.

After the whistle, we regularly see him come face to face with opponents to change the course of matches by motivating his teammates or trying to distract the opponent.

If he savors every minute of this fourth opportunity to lift the Stanley Cup, Corey Perry assures that he could have put on the uniform of the Canadiens again this year.

“I loved my experience with the Canadiens. I loved the city, the passion of the fans and all the excitement associated with our success in the playoffs. But when the Lightning offered me a two-year contract while the Canadian was limited to a one-year contract, I could not refuse such an offer, “said the 37-year-old veteran.

And it’s not the money – with career earnings hovering around $90 million, Perry will add $2 million over his tenure with the “Bolts” – the lure of the sun or the fact that the Lightning offered him a much more serious chance of achieving his goal of winning a second Stanley Cup than the Habs who pushed him to head for North Florida.

“I play hockey because I still love hockey and because I don’t want to quit. When they said, ‘We’re giving you two years, that’s all I needed to hear,’ Perry concluded.

From one crucial match to another…

The day after his team’s first victory, Jon Cooper was delighted to have received a better grade from his son.

“He gave us a C+ grade for the first game we lost in overtime. He gave us a well-deserved F grade after the second game. He gave us a B for the third meeting. We are improving, but we will have to improve further, ”agreed the Lightning coach.

Especially since there is room for improvement on the Tampa side.

“We have to spend less time in the defensive zone, get the puck out faster and above all prevent them from picking up speed in the neutral zone when they attack our territory. »

The Lightning will also have to find a way to compete with the Avalanche in terms of special teams. Not only does Tampa have just one goal in 12 kills, but they got peppered with five in 11 superiorities given to the Avs.

Cooper is more concerned with goals allowed than those not coming in enough numbers on a massive attack.

“The best way not to allow shorthanded goals is to not take penalties. But we know that it is practically impossible. We must therefore ensure that we win more face-offs, clear our territory more quickly and be aggressive in cutting passing lines, shooting lines and grabbing loose pucks. That said, we must recognize the quality of our opponents too. On the 2e Landeskog goal yesterday (Monday) he fired a perfect shot. On such a game, you say bravo and you try to score one in turn. »

Forced to forfeit Monday after playing the first two games of the final, Brayden Point represents a more doubtful case for Wednesday’s game.

“It’s not impossible, but it’s very unlikely,” admitted Jon Cooper.

In the case of Nikita Kucherov, who missed the final six minutes of the game after a Devon Toews cross-check hit him in the hip, Cooper is more optimistic.

“I believe and hope that he will play. The decision will be up to the doctors and “Kuche” himself. But I know this young player well enough to say that if the decision is up to him, he will want to be in the game.

Kadri trains, Burakovsky in Denver

In the camp of the Avalanche, the watchword was adjustment Tuesday.

“We expected a great performance from them and we got it. We will have to be collectively better tomorrow (Wednesday) to maximize our chances of victory, ”said Jared Bednar with his characteristic calm.

Although he recalled Darcy Kuemper to the bench after he allowed a fifth goal on the 22e shot he faced, the Avalanche head coach gave the impression that he would return with his number one for Game 4 of the Finals.

Whether Kuemper is in front of the net or Pavel Francouz comes in for him, Bednar’s designated goalie will need to be in top form to give his team an equal chance of victory that Andrei Vasilevskiy will be able to do. Behind a team that played much better than in the first two meetings, Vasilevskiy made several solid saves on Monday. He has once again become the keeper his teammates can trust.

“It’s hard to let go after a 7-0 loss like the one we suffered last Saturday in Denver. But if a goalkeeper can do it, it’s Andreï. I’ve known him since he joined the American League. He has the ability to forget a defeat, to put aside in 10 seconds a goal he has just conceded. He’s not the best goalkeeper in the world for nothing,” John Cooper assured the press on Tuesday.

It is also certain that Andre Burakovsky will not be in the game since he is still in Denver where he is undergoing treatment for an injury that worsened during the second game.

Nazem Kadri is getting closer to a return to play, however.

“Nazem will train with our reserves today and he can now hold a stick in his hands. His case is improving daily and I don’t rule out the possibility that he could come back to play during the final. In Andre’s case, he should skate for the first time today or tomorrow,” Jared Bednar concluded.

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