Tuesday, November 20, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

Lightning-Capitals: The most compelling Game 7 personality

Who is the most compelling personality in Lightning-Capitals Game 7?

We asked the Times' Lightning coverage team for their answer. Who's yours? Please share in the comments section and feel free to take issue with our answers.

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Steven Stamkos

Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos (91) and Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov (86) before a face off against the Florida Panthers during second period action at Amalie Arena in Tampa Tuesday evening (03/06/18). DIRK SHADD | Times

By Martin Fennelly

He is chasing the Cup as much as Alexander Ovechkin.

It was Ovechkin, with the clock ticking, who set the tone, physically and emotionally, as he helped will the Caps to this Game 7.  It is Stamkos' turn.

He is chasing the Cup, too, and his past, the injuries, the playoff letdowns, all of it, are on the stage with him tonight. It would be a moment to shine.

Andrei Vasilevskiy

DIRK SHADD | TimesTampa Bay Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy (88) during a stoppage in play against the Dallas Stars during second period action at Amalie Arena in Tampa Thursday evening (11/16/17).

By Greg Auman

Vasilevskiy can put up a wall in Game 7. The Lightning has stolen playoff games where he's shown up so much more than the players in front of him. This can be one of those games.

If he's better than Braden Holtby, that's a huge step toward the Lightning moving on to the Stanley Cup final. That means stopping an Alex Ovechkin at his most motivated, that means holding off a Capitals team that has already won in Amalie twice this series.

That might be what it takes for Tampa Bay to survive and advance.

Brayden Point

Brayden Point #21 of the Tampa Bay Lightning celebrates after scoring a goal on Braden Holtby #70 of the Washington Capitals during the second period in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Capital One Arena on May 15, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

By Roger Mooney

The focus will be on Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov, Alex Ovechkin and T.J. Oshie. The goalies, of course.

But this is the type of game where someone like Point or Yanni Gourde can make the biggest difference. Alex Killorn, too.

A forward on the middle lines who finds himself in the right place at the right time for the series-altering goal or pass that sets up the game-winner.

On the Lightning, that person is Point. He has been coming up big in big moments all season. Why not during the biggest moment of the biggest game of the season?

Nikita Kucherov

Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov (86) during a stoppage in play before a face off against the New Jersey Devils during first period action of game two of the first round of the NHL playoffs at Amalie Arena in Tampa Saturday afternoon (04/14/18). DIRK SHADD | Times

By Frank Pastor

Kucherov has scored some big postseason goals for the Lightning, including five in the first five playoff games this year. But when he's not putting the puck in the net, he gets down on himself.

He was a nonfactor in Game 6, with one shot and no hits. Worse, he looked disengaged — losing puck battles, committing turnovers, not moving his feet, hanging his head.

Kucherov's confidence in Game 7 will have a significant impact on whether or not the Lightning advances to the Stanley Cup final.

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