BOSTON — In an Eastern Conference final that has included several unexpected twists, there's now bulletin-board material.
With the best-of-seven series tied entering tonight's Game 5 at the TD Garden, Bruins G Tim Thomas guaranteed his team would advance in the end.
"We're going to win," Thomas told the Boston Herald on Saturday.
Those words weren't lost on the Lightning. The story with Thomas' quote was posted in its locker room Sunday.
"We might as well stay home," coach Guy Boucher quipped. "It's going to cost us a lot less money. And we can go home and get some sleep and watch some movies.
"Their people are allowed to think what they think, and we're not going to pay attention to that. Hopefully, our players are staying focused."
Thomas got the Lightning worked up last week, saying after a 2-0 win in Game 3 he felt comfortable in net. Tampa Bay players took Thomas' comments as if he meant they were easy to play against. RW Teddy Purcell said they used that as "fuel" in a 5-3 come-from-behind victory in Game 4 on Saturday.
"You hear it, and you make notice of it. Obviously, he's pretty confident over there," Lightning D Randy Jones said of Thomas. "We don't make too much of it. We worry about what we have to do.
"I'm confident in our group. I'm not going to go out and start making predictions. But I am definitely confident in our group, yes. We believe in ourselves, and we know we can beat them. But am I going to come out and tell you we're going to beat them and it's guaranteed? That's not how I work."
MEDICAL MATTERS: Lightning RW Steve Downie's status for tonight is uncertain, Boucher saying he's still "day to day."
Downie left Saturday's game with 2:35 left in the second period, hitting his head on the glass and ice following a hit by Bruins RW Nathan Horton. Horton, who was called for roughing, hovered around Downie (who was called for diving) for a few moments after the play, appearing to give him an earful.
But Boucher said that didn't bother him.
"There's a lot of things that go on in a playoff game, and they are trying to win. We're trying to win," he said. "Everybody is trying to fight for the little space they got. That's a situation that right now we have no control (over)."
BATTLING THE "BEAR:" There was still a lot of talk about LW Ryan Malone's big hits on Bruins giant D Zdeno Chara during Game 2, including knocking the 6-foot-9, 255-pound captain down and forcing a turnover that set up a second-period goal.
Purcell said you can probably count on both hands the number of times Chara has been felled in his career and Malone's hit provided momentum.
"He's been a guy all year that we're a different team when he's in the lineup," Purcell said of Malone. "He was out for a little bit (injured earlier this season), and we didn't really have that much grit and sandpaper. Him and Chara have been having good battles all series, so it definitely inspires us."
Malone shrugged it off, saying he wasn't necessarily targeting Chara but pointed out there's a benefit to checking him from time to time.
"He's a big, big man. I think I'm feeling a little bit of that today," Malone said. "He's a force out there. Any chance you have to put the body on him, even if you don't knock him over, you might take the brunt of it. But you try to tire him down. He's a big bear. He's a big guy, so you try to make it as hard as you can."
Times staff writer Damian Cristodero contributed to this report. Joe Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.