Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Lightning calm, confident about Game 7 at Penguins

The Lightning celebrates a goal by Brian Boyle (11) on Tuesday that cuts the deficit to 3-2, but the Penguins force a Game 7.

LOREN ELLIOTT | Times

The Lightning celebrates a goal by Brian Boyle (11) on Tuesday that cuts the deficit to 3-2, but the Penguins force a Game 7.

PITTSBURGH — The Lightning, as resilient as it has been, predictably exuded confidence leading up to tonight's Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final against the Penguins.

After all, considering all Tampa Bay has been through, making it this far without injured captain Steven Stamkos, and injured Vezina Trophy finalist Ben Bishop missing most of this series, who would bet against the Lightning?

"I definitely think there's a calmness within our group and how we approach games like these," defenseman Anton Stralman said. "We know we have it in us. It's just a matter of finding that emotion and that energy."

But after surprisingly not bringing that energy early in a 5-2 loss in Tuesday's Game 6, blowing a chance to close out the series at home, Tampa Bay is dangerously close to letting its season slip away. Veteran wing Ryan Callahan said the Lightning can draw from its experience from last year's Eastern Conference final, when it beat the Rangers at Madison Square Garden in Game 7.

But Penguins wing Carl Hagelin, who played for the Rangers in that series, said Pittsburgh may be a tougher out.

"That game we didn't play good at all," Hagelin said of the Rangers, who lost 2-0. "It was one of those games where we had nothing. This is a different team. This is a team that really believes in one another and believes we can score a goal and be a threat offensively when we do the right things."

The Lightning is a different team, too. Bishop pitched a shutout in last year's Game 7 against the Rangers, but isn't likely to be available tonight due to a lower left leg injury suffered in Game 1; Andrei Vasilevskiy is expected to make his sixth consecutive start.

"I don't anticipate Ben being in," coach Jon Cooper said.

Stamkos isn't expected to play either. Stamkos has been sidelined since April 4 surgery to repair a blood clot in his collarbone. While Stamkos has continued to practice with the team, and physically feels like he could play, he's awaiting a decision on whether he can return while on a different regimen of blood thinners or get off the medication completely. Cooper said Wednesday that Stamkos' status hasn't changed.

The Lightning, which won two Game 7s in last year's run to the Stanley Cup final, has beaten the Penguins at Consol Energy Center twice in this series, including a 4-3 come-from-behind overtime win in Game 5.

But it'll have to put together a much better start than Tuesday's, when it was outshot 26-11 in the first 40 minutes. Teams that score first in Game 7s are 123-42.

"I definitely think that our start and our compete and our intensity is going to be key," Stralman said.

Stralman, who is 7-0 in his career in Game 7s, said these kind of games are what "athletes dream of and aim for," and it's important to not stress over it, just soak it in.

"I don't think you can play to your potential if you're not embracing it," Stralman said. "Just have fun with it, and enjoy it instead of putting a lot of pressure on yourself and all that stuff, You play at your best when you don't think too much and you just go out and play hockey like you have for a lot of years."

Said Cooper: "When the game is over, just walk by the mirror and look at it and say, 'Did you give it your best shot?' If the answer is yes, let the chips fall where they lie."

Contact Joe Smith at joesmith@tampabay.com, Follow @TBTimes_JSmith.

By the numbers

96-69 Record for home teams in Game 7s, including 2-2 in 2016.

123-42 Record in Game 7s of team that scores first, including 4-0 in 2016.

40 Game 7s that have required overtime.

5-1 All-time record for Lightning in Game 7s.

3 Goals allowed by the Lightning in its six Game 7 appearances.

Lightning calm, confident about Game 7 at Penguins 05/25/16 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 25, 2016 10:26pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Alex Faedo, Florida advance to face LSU in College World Series finals

    College

    OMAHA, Neb. — Alex Faedo pitched three-hit ball for 71/3 innings in a second straight strong performance against TCU, and Florida moved to the College World Series finals with a 3-0 win Saturday night.

    Florida’s Austin Langworthy scores on a single by Mike Rivera in the second inning during a 3-0 victory over TCU.
  2. Jones: Bucs need success to get national respect

    Bucs

    Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones offers up his Two Cents on the world of sports.

    No respect

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter walks the field during the second day of mandatory minicamp at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, June 14, 2017. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times
  3. Rays journal: Jumbo Diaz falters after getting within a strike of ending rally

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Saturday's game got away starting with a leadoff walk in the seventh inning by Rays LHP Jose Alvarado, who was brought in exclusively to face Baltimore's lefty-swinging Seth Smith.

    Rays reliever Jumbo Diaz wipes his face as he walks off the mound after the Orioles score four during the seventh inning to give them a 7-3 lead. Diaz was one strike away from working out of the jam before he allowed a two-run double and a two-run homer on back-to-back pitches.
  4. Rookie Jake Faria dissatisfied with performance in Rays' loss to Orioles

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The rookie pitcher walked to his locker Saturday after tossing the fourth quality start in as many tries to begin his career. He held the potent Orioles bats to three runs and for six innings gave his team a chance to win.

    Orioles third baseman Manny Machado tags out the Rays’ Mallex Smith at third after a rundown in the first inning.
  5. Roger Mooney's takeaways from Saturday's Rays-Orioles game

    The Heater

    It was refreshing to see RHP Jacob Faria take the blame after the loss even though he gave the Rays a chance to win. Too often young pitchers are encouraged by what they did and not necessarily the outcome, but Faria, making just his fourth big-league start, came to the Trop to win, didn't, and pointed the finger …