Alex Lyon left some questions to be answered for the Florida Panthers following his NHL playoff debut against the Boston Bruins on Monday night.
Lyon certainly answered them in Game 2.
Lyon certainly rewarded Maurice’s faith in him with 34 saves on 37 shots in a critical 6-3 win Wednesday to even the best-of-7 series.
“I worked really hard in to be comfortable in Game 1 because you just don’t know if you’ve never been in a situation before,” Lyon said postgame on Wednesday.
“Today, I just felt much more comfortable and much more at ease.”
Lyon did not have to change much about his game to find success in Game 2.
He stayed true to his style: playing further out of the crease to allow himself to cut off angles and make athletic saves on rush chances.
But he did so with less tension and it helped.
”What I liked the most about the way he looked tonight is that it was exactly the way he looked last game,” Maurice said.
”He is very square, his timing has been excellent on the seam plays where the puck crosses the ice very well to one-timers and he is meeting those. He’s dialed in.”
Lyon’s style bit him a little on Monday when he was caught out of position by Brad Marchand, allowing a puck to dribble off his glove and behind him for Boston’s game-deciding second goal, but he did not let it bother him.
He came back Wednesday and continued to cut down on angles and make big saves on 2-on-1s as he did three times in the series opener.
And he changed the game when he held his composure and slid over to stop a Pavel Zacha chance in the dying seconds of the second period.
It kept the game tied at 2-2 and eventually helped the Panthers break it open in the third.
“Looking at it from the perspective of the game, it was a big save for sure,” Lyon said.
“I felt like in Game 1, I didn’t make a critical save on Marchand on the second goal. Sometimes it goes, sometimes it doesn’t. As happy as I am about that one, you also have to understand that there’s an inverse reaction on the other side.”
It was a save the team rallied around and it helped them come out and play well in the third.
”The saves he made last game were huge and I know he wanted to have one of those back and he’s owned it and then comes out tonight and does what he does,” Matthew Tkachuk said.
“He could have easily let that trickle into his game and he just comes in here with so much confidence and it gives us even more confidence to play in front of him.”
Making adjustments in uncomfortable situations is not new for Lyon. At all.
After an erratic first tour with the Panthers before the All-Star Break, he stepped in for Sergei Bobrovsky when he fell ill with eight games to go and his team sitting three points out of a playoff spot and riding a four-game losing streak.
Lyon stepped in for the Panthers and led them to a surprising overtime win in Toronto and ended up winning six consecutive starts before finishing the season 6-1-1.
That seven-game point streak heading into the regular season finale led the Panthers to this spot in the postseason.
“All month, even going back to when he was first thrown in, he hasn’t really been put in the best situation,” Tkachuk said.
“And the way he has come in and handled himself has settled the whole team down and has given us a chance to win each and every night. He is the unsung hero and the reason why we’re in the playoffs.”
This is nothing new for Lyon.
He stopped 94 saves in an AHL playoff game in 2018 and won a championship with the AHL’s Chicago Wolves last season.
While the stage is bigger in the NHL, Lyon seems to keep growing with it.
”I really enjoy playing in that atmosphere,” he said. “It’s just fun for me. I get energized and it just helps.”
FLORIDA PANTHERS ON DECK
STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS, ROUND 1
BOSTON BRUINS (ATL1) VS. FLORIDA PANTHERS (WC2)
GAME 3 (Series tied 1-1)
- When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
- Where: FLA Live Arena, Sunrise
- TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida, TNT
- Radio: WPOW 96.5-FM2; WBZT 1230-AM (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
- Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932
- Regular Season Series (Tied 2-2): @Boston 5, Florida 3 (Oct. 17); @Florida 5, Boston 2 (Nov. 23); @Boston 7, Florida 3 (Dec. 19); @Florida 4, Boston 3 OT (Jan. 28)
- Last Season: Boston won 2-1
- All-time Regular Season Series: Boston leads 60-38-6, 6 ties
- Playoff History (Florida leads 1-0): Panthers 4-1, 1996 (first round)
- First Round Schedule — Game 1: @Boston 3, Florida 1; Game 2: Florida 6, @Boston 3; Game 3: at Florida, Friday, 7:30 (BSF, TNT); Game 4: at Florida, Sunday, 3:30 (BSF, TNT); Game 5: at Boston, Wednesday, April 26 TBD (BSF, TBA); Game 6*: at Florida, Friday, April 28; Game 7*: at Boston, Sunday, April 30. (*) — If Necessary.