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NHL Notebook

Lightning look to even Stanley Cup Final against Avalanche after Game 3 rout

After a commanding win in Game 3, the Lightning are looking to even things up in Game 4 Wednesday.Bruce Bennett/Getty

So much for the notion that the Tampa Bay Lightning might be running out of gas against the speedy Colorado Avalanche in the Stanley Cup Final.

Turns out the team’s recipe for postseason success still works when the two-time defending champions incorporate all the ingredients.

Like goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy reverting to his customary stingy ways; Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov, and Victor Hedman lighting up the scoresheet; and a slew of lesser-known role players contributing offensively and defensively, too.

Two nights after yielding seven goals in a blowout loss, Vasilevskiy rebounded with 37 saves in a 6-2 victory Monday night. The Lightning’s depth was an asset, too, with six players scoring goals and a total of 10 showing up on the scoresheet.

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The Lightning still trail the best-of-seven series, 2-1, after bouncing back from the most lopsided playoff loss in franchise history to beat the Avalanche in Game 3. Coach Jon Cooper is confident his team is trending in the right direction.

“I probably use this word too often, but there’s a recipe in place for us to have success. It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to see what hasn’t worked for us in games where we’ve gotten blown out and what’s worked for us in the games we’ve won. A big part of it is managing the puck,” Cooper said.

“[The Avalanche] are a hell of a team. You give them an inch, they’ll take a mile. So you have to take away the inches all over the ice,” the coach added. “And if it breaks down you hope your goalie is there to make a save for you. If you manage the puck, it all takes off from there.”

Despite questions about who Colorado’s goaltender will be moving forward, the Avalanche feel they’re still in control of the series. A win Wednesday night would give them a commanding 3-1 lead heading back to Denver for Game 5 on Friday night.

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“If you look at it, we are still in the driver’s seat. ...We knew coming in here that it would be tough to win both games,” Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson said.

Game 4 is Wednesday night at Amalie Arena.

Dallas Stars hire veteran coach Peter DeBoer

Peter DeBoer has twice gone to the Stanley Cup Final in his first season with a new team. Now he is the new coach of the Dallas Stars, who were there two summers ago.

“Every team that he has taken over has not only shown immediate improvement but has been ultra-competitive in the Stanley Cup playoffs,” Stars general manager Jim Nill said. “His resume displays the high standards he sets and his ability to get his team to play up to that level consistently.”

DeBoer, who previously led New Jersey and San Jose to the Stanley Cup Final in his first season with those clubs, was let go by the Golden Knights last month after they missed the playoffs for the first time in the franchise’s five-season history. He had been their coach for 2½ seasons after replacing Gerard Gallant, who took Vegas to the final in its inaugural 2017-18 season and back to the playoffs in 2019.

Dallas made it to the 2020 Final with Rick Bowness as their interim head coach before he got a two-year contract that went through this season.

This will be the fifth head coaching job for DeBoer, who has a 513-379-123 record in 1,015 regular-season games over the past 14 seasons with Florida (2008-11), New Jersey (2011-15), San Jose (2015-20), and Vegas.

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Jay Woodcroft gets 3-year deal after Oilers’ run to West final

The Edmonton Oilers have given coach Jay Woodcroft a three-year contract extension for taking over the team in February and leading them to the NHL Western Conference final.

Woodcroft was named the interim coach on Feb. 10 after Dave Tippett was fired following a 7-13-3 run that had the Oilers sitting fifth in the Pacific Division.

The Oilers underwent a rapid turnaround under the 45-year-old Toronto native, winning their next five games by a combined score of 22-8.

Edmonton went 26-9-3 with Woodcroft at the helm for the final 38 games of the regular season to finish second in the division. It was the second-best record in the NHL over that span.

The Oilers defeated the Los Angeles Kings in seven games to open the playoffs, then dispatched the arch-rival Calgary Flames in five contests to reach the conference final for the first time since advancing to the Stanley Cup Final in the 2005-06 season.

Edmonton was swept by Colorado in the conference final.

Woodcroft had been head coach of the Oilers’ AHL affiliate, the Bakersfield Condors, since 2018 before being promoted to Oilers head coach.