Ahead of Game 4 against the New York Rangers, Tampa forward Corey Perry says the Lightning can't take being at home for granted if they want to level the Eastern Conference Final series.
ALEX KILLORN: Well, I think, first and foremost, Cirelli is a great center man, obviously. C gets the Selke. Or, what is it? Fifth in Selke voting? But as a line, I think we keep it pretty simple. We do our best to get pucks behind their defense, as cliche as it sounds. And we feel like in those situations, all three of us are pretty good at protecting the puck down low. Maybe we haven't produced as much as we would have liked to, but I think as a line when we're making them play defense for a good majority of the game, that's successful for us in what we're trying to do.
- Back right.
- For both you guys, to play off of that even more, how much does it help, or do you like knowing when you're at home you have a certain match-up in your, whether it's preparation or shift to shift when you're going out there? When that line goes boom, you know you're going out there. How much do you guys like the match-up?
ALEX KILLORN: Yeah. I don't know that we think about it a ton, it's just more predictable in the sense that you know when you're going to go out there with line match-ups. You really don't try to change your game a ton playing different lines. I think every line on our team has a certain identity and we want to not play against the other line, but play to the best of our abilities. So yeah, not crazy, just more predictable, for sure.
- Right. Joe.
- Corey, I know part of the game plan in a lot of series is getting closer to the crease or taking away the goalie's eyes and that kind of thing like that. Like, where's the balance? Like, I know on your penalty, you got right there and then-- what's the balance of getting close, but not too close, I guess?
COREY PERRY: Well, there's always that fine line. It's a matter of taking those eyes away. And it's a matter of being there, but not in the blue. We're going to go there, we're going to make it hard. It's just our identity as a team. And you look in the playoffs as it gets deeper, goals are harder to come by. And you have to work a little bit harder, and it's not always going to be those great passing plays, it's going to be rebounds or tips. And those goals are scored right in front of the net, so somebody has to go there. And guys are going have to do the job to make it hard on them.
- Right side. Tom.
- Corey, was there a change in mentality? John was just saying that middle of the second period of game 2 is kind of when you guys finally started playing your game. Was it just that, hey, what we're doing is not working here, it kind of put us back on your perspective there, or what changed at that moment, do you think?
COREY PERRY: Well, what we were doing wasn't working. But at the same time, I think we found our legs. We understood where we were. And it's Eastern Conference Final. There's only a handful of games left. And kind of the message is if you're not happy with how you're playing, what are you going to do to change it? And I think guys really bought in. And it's one of those things where it might have just clicked and we found our groove. And whatever it is, you have to be able to go out each shift and continue to do what we've been doing lately.
- Back right.
- Alex, I know I asked you earlier in the playoffs that momentum doesn't always carry over from game to game, but does that change the deeper you get into the playoffs? Or is it just your style of play, you just have to continue that?
ALEX KILLORN: Yeah. I think momentum, you could see momentum in games. I think teams are able to reset. You could see, in this playoffs especially, momentum hasn't been a huge factor with a lot of teams. But I think, for us, it was the momentum of playing well. The first game was terrible. Second game, we kind of find our legs. Third game, we play a lot better. So we're building off that momentum, not just the win.
- Take a few more. Front left.
- This is Corey, a little bit off of what Alex was just saying. Obviously, things mid-game yesterday looked fairly dire. You're down 2-0 in the series in the game. And after last night's game and where you stand right now, can you put into words kind of the different vibe in the locker room and just the feel around the team as you go into tomorrow night compared to, maybe, it was prior to last night?
COREY PERRY: Well, yeah. There's a difference either being down 3-0 or being down 2-1. And I think coming off that win, it was a heck of a win. And that winning goal was a great play by Hedy, Kuch, and Pally all together. And I think, today, you have to take the little breath and regroup because it's going to have to be the same tomorrow. You're going to have to play the same way.
You're going to have to have, what? We had 50 some shots. You're going to have to get pucks the net because he's a great goalie. If he sees the puck, he's going to stop it. And it's what we've kind of been talking about is you have to do it, go out and do it all over again. And you can't take just being at home for granted.
- On the right side.
- Alex, you talk a lot about how good defense leads to good offense. How much can that kind of help you guys? It seemed like your line got a lot of opportunities in front of the net last night. How can that kind of help you guys moving forward in terms of helping, maybe, some of you guys on that line, offensively?
ALEX KILLORN: Yeah. I think defensively, the less time you spend in the defensive end, you always have more energy to play offense. Playing in your D zone is very frustrating and very tiring. So when you could do it to another team and do it for an extended period of time where they feel like once they get the puck they just have to chip it and get off the ice, and you continuously do that, it's hard, it's hard on their team. And I think, like you said, the more we could spend in the ozone, I think we had a ton of chances. Hopefully, we'll get one in one of these games coming up here, but really happy with the way our line played.