SPORTS

Lightning star Stamkos chalks up goalless series versus Detroit as an experience

05/01/2015 01:43 EDT | Updated 05/01/2016 05:12 EDT
MONTREAL - Few would pick Tampa Bay to win a playoff series if sniper Steven Stamkos didn't score, but the Lightning did just that in their seven-game win over Detroit in the first round.

The two-time Richard Trophy winner as the NHL's top goal-scorer was limited to three assists in the series. Tyler Johnson led the attack with six goals.

He hopes to get back on track as the Lightning open the second round Friday night against the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre.

"The first round was tough when you're not producing, but that was an eye-opener for me that I can go out there and focus on other areas of the game, whether it was faceoffs or playing well defensively," Stamkos said. "Obviously, you want to help your team by producing, but when your team wins at the end of the day, it's pretty satisfying. The beauty of it is it's kind of a fresh start and I'm excited for that chance."

The Lightning were swept in the first round by the Canadiens a year ago, but then won all five regular-season meetings with them this season. But Stamkos said past records go out the window at playoff time.

"This is a brand new ballgame," he said. "We had a lot of success against them in the regular season last year, we had a lot of success against Detroit in the regular season this year and they took us to seven.

"If anything, I think this group has learned the lesson of not paying any attention to what happened in previous games."

Montreal coach Michel Therrien said this week his team should be considered underdogs based on its regular-season record against the Bolts. That was a surprise for Lightning coach Jon Cooper.

"They had 110 points, won the division, have a Vezina candidate (Carey Price), Hart candidate (Price) and Norris candidate (P.K. Subban)," said Cooper. "I guess if we had those, I'd say yeah, he is the underdog. But we don't have those."

Cooper feels it is difficult to compare the series to the one last season because his team has made so many changes. Newcomers with extensive NHL experience include Brian Boyle, Brenden Morrow, Anton Stralman, Jason Garrison and Braydon Coburn.

"All those young players we had last year are all a year older and you couple that with the group we brought in of experienced guys that have been there before, guys that have played a lot of playoff games in the last few years," he said.

"In that respect, we're much different. We're more experienced. And our goaltender's different. We have a guy who has been a rock the last two years. That clearly is a big difference."

Lighting starter Ben Bishop missed last year's playoffs with an injury.

Centre Valtteri Filppula didn't play the third period of Game 7, but he was back on the ice for the game-day skate Friday morning.

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