Tampa Bay Times
TAMPA, Fla. — Hours after the Tampa Bay Lightning held off the Toronto Maple Leafs Thursday in Toronto to force Game 6 in their opening-round playoff series, defenseman Zach Bogosian kept things simple while answering questions.
What was the biggest thing the Lightning, who continue to trail three games to two, took from the series-extending win?
“We’re still alive,” Bogosian said, laughing, minutes after getting off the team’s charter flight Friday afternoon.
The Lightning again will face elimination when they host the Maple Leafs Saturday at Amalie Arena. But Bogosian, a native of Massena, likes how his team is giving itself a chance by having everyone contribute and focusing on the next task at hand.
“We understand what we did (Thursday) night,” he said. “Take what you can from the game and just get ready for (today). We’re not in a position where we’re gonna sit on a win and be happy about it. We have another job to do (Saturday), and we’ll go from there.”
Bogosian, 32, knows a little about staying alive in this game.
The veteran defenseman often was a healthy scratch before being cut loose by the Sabres in February 2020. He signed as a free agent with the Lightning, then left after the season to sign with the Maple Leafs before returning to Tampa Bay in 2021-22.
After missing the playoffs during the first 11 seasons of his career with the Thrashers, Jets and Sabres, Bogosian now has played in 53 postseason games, including 46 with the Lightning.
In 46 games this season, Bogosian scored five points, including one goal, and had a minus-4 plus-minus rating. But he saw his playing time diminish late in the regular season as the Lightning turned more often to rookie Darren Raddysh. Bogosian played in just three of the final eight regular-season games.
He finally got his chance in the playoffs in Game 2, after Erik Cernak took a hit to the head from Michael Bunting (who was suspended for three games) during Game 1. Lightning coach Jon Cooper said Cernak will be out for a fifth straight game tonight.
Tampa Bay has handled these kind of losses before.
They have the big names that led them during the regular season, like forwards Steven Stamkos, Brayden Point and Nikita Kucherov. But in the postseason, those guys have largely been contained, so the Lightning have had to look elsewhere for offense.
“If you’re going to win in the playoffs, you need everybody’s scoring,” Cooper said. “And so we’re still around in the playoffs, and the guys used to scoring all the goals haven’t quite scored yet. It’s probably a good sign for us. Eventually, they’re gonna score.”
Though clearly not an offensive-minded player, Bogosian has even helped in that effort. Thursday, he made a near-perfect pass to set up Michael Eyssimont’s go-ahead goal in the second period, picking up his ninth career playoff point.
Bogosian knows it’s those types of plays — and players — keeping the Lightning’s hopes alive. It’s Anthony Cirelli and Alex Killorn (each with three), not Kucherov or Stamkos (one apiece), leading the team in goals.
That everybody contributes is what Bogosian likes most about playing for the Lightning — and why he likes their chances of staying alive.
“I think what’s given us success over the last few years is that depth,” Bogosian said. “I still think the guys like the Stammers, the (Brayden) Pointers and Kuches that you’re talking about, they’re doing a lot of really good things, whether you score or show up in the scoresheet or not.
“In the playoffs, it’s all about the little things that probably don’t show up that win you hockey games, and those guys do it every single night. They’re so talented that I guess a goal or an assist will happen, but it’s more of the little things that add up for the team win.”
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