Rod Brind’Amour, Martin Necas, Cedric Paquette, and Sebastian Aho talked to the media via Zoom after the win.
On how his team bounced back after the rough first period: We didn’t have a bad period in the first. It was just kind of a weird goal on the one. I thought we were actually pretty good. Coming out with a lead in the third, giving up that goal could’ve been deflating, but these guys just keep playing. You have to give them a lot of credit.
On Necas and how he has developed into an impact player this season: He’s never lacked for confidence. From day one, he’s been trying to make plays. We encourage it, but I think now he has a better understanding of when and where to make plays. You can see it, he’s matured. Physically, he’s a little strong, which goes a long way to having your own confidence. I think it’s his maturity, physically. He’s always had the confidence.
On the impact of the growing number of fans allowed in the building: Right away when we first came out, I was like, ‘wow, we have a hockey game here.’ To have this little small amount, compared to what we normally get, it says a lot about the people coming in here. They definitely aren’t sitting on their hands. They got entertained, and that’s great.
On Paquette’s impact as a teammate: He’s in a tough spot. I don’t play him that much. I could probably play him more, but every shift he goes out there, he gives it everything he has. He’s noticeable, a great teammate. The guys really appreciate how he plays.
On if the coaching staff made any big adjustments after the rough start: We did make a few adjustments. That’s where my staff real credit, Jeff Daniels, he’s great at saying “why don’t you try this, mix the lines, take a look at that” and we shook it up a bit right away. We actually went off of our matchup of what we thought we were gonna do. There were a lot of little things going on. At the end of the day, it was about the guys playing. I was proud of the effort tonight. Whether we got the two points or not, I thought it was a solid, solid effort all around.
On how he has stepped up and filled in for Teravainen and Trocheck: I got on the first power play, started playing with Seabass. He’s a great player. It doesn’t matter if it’s Seabass or Troch, you have so many good players. Now we’re missing two of them. I’m just trying to stop in for them. I got on the first PP, which gives you a little more confidence and time on the ice. I felt good. My teammates play great, so I’ve been trying to keep up with them.
On the bad start and the bounce back the team had in the second period: It was definitely a tough start. I don’t think we played a bad first period. We were two down, but we had some chances. Me, especially, I had two chances and could’ve scored, but the goalie made some good saves. It wasn’t bad, but we just didn’t have a little luck. In the second period, we started playing really well. We got some power plays and we kinda started to come around.
On his first-period shift where he skated two laps around the Tampa zone with the puck looking for a play: I was just buzzing around. I was trying to wait for someone to get open. After the first lap and the second lap, I was like ‘I should probably pass it to someone,’ so I dropped it to Skjei.
On not being fazed by any situation: I feel that’s exactly what happened today. A couple of bad bounces. Obviously, the first goal by them was nice, but the second one was kind of a bad bounce. Still, shift after shift we played our own game. We competed hard. That was a good game by us even though the start wasn’t ideal.
On feeling like a playoff game: I guess you could say that. Both teams play hard, right? The games are intense and the farther the season goes every game is huge and obviously, they’re the defending champs so obviously it was quite a challenge for us, but I’m proud of how we responded to them being up 2-0 early. That was a great team effort.
On Martin Necas: He’s a great player. He’s got all the skill in the world and the way he skates is pretty impressive. Fun player to play with. I feel that we think the game the same way and we try to do those give-and-goes which creates some space for each of us. He stepped up for us tonight for sure. A couple of really nice goals.
On if he’s ever surprised by any of Necas’ plays: I see him every day and now I’ve been playing with him for a good while, so I know what he’s capable of. I know he’s looking for me and it’s kind of the same way when I have the puck, I’m looking for him. I would not say surprised, but he’s definitely a fun guy to play with.
On Cedric Paquette: He’s been a big player for us since day one. He plays physical. Plays the right way. Now, he’s scored two huge goals for us to give us the chance to win those hockey games. For sure he’s been a great addition to our lineup.
On if he had a plan for his goal on Vasilevskiy: Not really. Vasy takes breakaways after every morning skate and I don’t score on him, so I told myself I’m not going to try what I used to in practice and just tried to shoot through him and it worked.
On a key to getting pucks past Vasilevskiy: We got some traffic in front of him for the last few goals. When he can’t see the puck, it’s tough for him to stop it. I thought we did a good job with that, especially with the last goal. It was huge.
On how close the two teams are to each other: It was two great teams going at each other. It’s pretty close like you saw tonight. There was physicality and I don’t think the two teams like each other. There’s a good chance we see them more and more. Obviously, I think we’re really close to each other.
On Martin Necas: He’s been unreal. Lately, he’s good. He’s got some skills, a crazy shot and he’s got confidence right now. It’s great for us.