As a master motivator, and former defense attorney, new Lightning coach Jon Cooper has a way with words. But Cooper didn't need many to succinctly describe his unforgettable NHL coaching debut Friday, a 5-4 shootout win over the Devils in front of an announced sellout crowd of 19,204 at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. "Wow," Cooper said, smiling. "How about that?" The Lightning (15-18-1) said it embodied the swagger of its 45-year-old coach, overcoming two two-goal deficits against future Hall of Fame goalie Martin Brodeur. Alex Killorn, who scored the tying goal with 15.1 seconds left in regulation, said the comeback was similar to a lot of the "character wins" Cooper sparked while leading Tampa Bay's AHL team, for which Killorn played. And Cooper had the magic touch in the shootout. The first two players he picked to go, Teddy Purcell and Victor Hedman, scored, and goalie Mathieu Garon stood tall with two saves. "That was a lot of fun," Cooper said. "I'm going to remember this one for a long, long time." Cooper looked relaxed in the hours before the game, including cracking players up with jokes at the morning skate. He said that inside he felt the opposite, experiencing a "wave of emotions" in a week that has included a few sleepless nights since he was hired Monday to replace fired Guy Boucher.
Lightning wins Cooper's coaching debut
Tampa Bay Times | Mar 30