TAMPA — Welcome to Game 7, the most fun a player can have if he's fortunate enough to play in one. At least, that is how Lightning D Anton Stralman sees tonight's Eastern Conference final finale.
"I take pleasure in playing a Game 7," Stralman said. "It's one of the most exciting moments in sports and that's always what you envisioned when you were a kid playing, scoring that goal that clinches it. I think you have to embrace it and really just have fun with it. That's what it's all about."
This is the ninth Game 7 for Stralman. He has won seven.
Stralman is one of six Lightning players to play in at least seven Game 7s. The others are D Ryan McDonagh (6-1 record), D Dan Girardi (6-2), F Chris Kunitz (6-3), D Braydon Coburn (5-2) and F Ryan Callahan (5-2). All have recorded at least one Game 7 win against the Capitals.
Girardi was asked Tuesday if there is a trick to winning a Game 7.
"You have to play a full 60 minutes," he said. "Can't take a shift off. Every little play matters, whether it's a chip out, blocked shot, get a good puck on net, make a good play. All those little things add up. Can't take a shift off."
Tale of the 7s
The Lightning is 5-2 all time in Game 7s, including 2-2 in the Eastern Conference final. Its .714 winning percentage is the best in NHL history.
It is a different story for the Capitals, who are 4-11 with an NHL-worst .267 winning percentage.
F Alex Ovechkin and D Nicklas Backstrom are tied for the most Game 7 losses with seven in 11 tries. The Caps' last Game 7 loss was to the Penguins during the 2017 conference semifinals.
"You learn from it. You have to. You learn from those Game 7 moments," F Jay Beagle said. "It makes you a stronger player and a better player. You hope that the next time you get that chance, you don't make the same mistakes, that you go out and find a way to get the job done."
Game 7 winners
The Lightning has four players who scored winning goals during Game 7s: Coburn, Girardi, Kunitz and Alex Killorn. Kunitz's game last season in the Eastern Conference final against the Senators was when he scored at 5:09 of double overtime to give the Penguins a 3-2 win en route to their second straight Stanley Cup championship.