Jon Cooper addressed the media after his team’s 5-2 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinal series.
On his team having to chase the game:
It’s the playoffs. There are 16 teams that aren’t playing right now. The top 16 teams are playing. Everyone is good. Everybody had north of 100 points in his [Conference]. It is not ideal to be behind, but you are going to be behind at times.
They did force us to chase it, but it is just hard to chase it when you are in the penalty box all the time. If you don’t take any penalties like we did in the third, we had a pretty good period.
The parade to the penalty box is getting exhausting.
On the team fighting back to 3-2 down:
It was clear momentum had shifted. We got the power play, and we had some looks. They didn’t go in. Give their goalie credit. He made the saves when he had to. You are hoping it doesn’t come down to that.
We pushed, but sitting up here now, we are down 2-1. We can sit here and pat ourselves on the back all night long and say, “Hey, great job pushing at the end!” You’re still down 2-1.
We just have to take the positive out of this and move on to Game 4.
On whether his team was flat early in the game:
I can’t sit here and say we were flat. It was hard to judge because we were shorthanded for how much of the game? Four minutes into the game, we were already shorthanded. Now we are down 1-0.
It is all good after that, and we kind of have a chance to score. Next thing you know, it is 3-on-1 the other way, and now you are chasing it.
I can’t sit here and say flat was what it was. We self-imploded. That was a little bit more of what happened than being flat.
On his team’s lack of discipline:
The frustrating one today… Two over the glass are tough. It has been the tale of the playoffs for us. What have we taken? 15 penalties now? We didn’t take one in the third, so that’s 15 penalties in eight periods of hockey. That’s not a winning formula.
On the goal his team conceded just after Tampa power play expired:
We might have been a little bit unaware of the time left. We might have gone a little all in. The puck was battling. They just won the battle. At this time of year, you have to make sure you win those battles. You can’t be giving chances like that up.
We haven’t really done a ton of that in these playoffs, but the power play has given up two shorties. That wasn’t a shorty, but it was darn close. We just have to be better in that area.
On Stamkos, Hedman, and Kucherov combining for one shot on goal through two periods:
I don’t know. To me, we had our way in the matchups. We liked the way things were going. If those guys are going to have success, you need to see numbers in that column. They played in their d-zone too much.
As you saw, how did it look in the third? Nine shots? There you go. I don’t think Toronto changed their way in the third when they were having success in the first two periods. It was probably more on us.
On Stamkos’ missed opportunity on the power play to tie the game:
Every time he shoots it from there, you’re thinking it is going in. We’ve seen a lot of them go in. The one we needed there didn’t go in tonight. He doesn’t score every single time there. He just scores a lot. He got a good look, and he got a ton on it. It is probably a great shot and a better save.
On what the team can build off of from its third period:
It was our urgency. That is what was the difference. And we weren’t sitting there killing the whole period. Those are the two things that we changed, and we semi got rewarded for it. Just not enough.
On Kucherov’s play at even strength in the series so far:
I am not going to sit here and talk about one specific player. As a team, though, you play basically just shy of 10 minutes of 30 shorthanded. I think we had three minutes. Almost half of the first two periods are special teams. It has been like that a ton. It is hard to comment on the five-on-five. It is short sample sizes.
In saying that, in the limited time we have had, we have liked what we have seen. I think special teams has been a factor in all three games. Hence the 2-1 lead.