BOSTON — Lightning W Ryan Malone had a fitting description for C Steven Stamkos after Friday's Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final.
"He's a warrior," Malone said.
Stamkos was part of a scary moment five minutes into the second period, taking a slap shot from Bruins D Johnny Boychuk off his face that broke his nose and sent him to the ice. Stamkos quickly skated to the locker room but quickly returned less than six minutes later.
With a streak of blood on the right side of his nose and wearing a caged mask, Stamkos played the rest of the game.
"I've broke my nose before," Stamkos said. "It's just a weird play. Their guy cut in front of me right before and didn't see the puck coming, just hit me square on. But nothing was going to keep anyone in this dressing room from staying out of this game, that's for sure."
STEPPING UP: Lightning C Blair Jones said it sunk in a little bit Thursday night, the eve of Game 7.
Jones, 24, who spent most of the season with AHL Norfolk, was preparing for a playoff game with a berth in the Stanley Cup final on the line.
"It's just pretty amazing," he said before Friday's game. "You talk about living the dream. It's pretty wild."
During a season in which Jones strived to find consistency at the NHL level, dressing for just 18 games, he made some significant strides. So much so that with LW Sean Bergenheim (lower-body injury) missing his second straight game, Jones was put in the lineup for the seventh time this postseason.
While Jones knows he can't replicate Bergenheim's production (nine playoff goals) or chemistry with linemates, the physical 6-foot-2, 216-pounder has tried to do the little things.
"He's working so hard. He's a warrior, and we knew that," coach Guy Boucher said. "But I think he's maintained the level of play that we're expecting out of him, and he's brought a lot of grit.
"He's one of those guys that's got enough skill, got enough grit and pays the price. He backchecks extremely well and finishes his check and is first on the puck. It's a great recipe to have a good playoffs."
MEDICAL MATTERS: Bergenheim, who entered Friday second in the playoffs in goals, appeared close to returning. He made some improvements since suffering the injury in the first period of Game 5 and participated in the optional morning skate and warmups before Game 7 even though Boucher considered him "doubtful."
EMPTY BOX: There were no penalties called in Friday's Game 7. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, penalty information hasn't been kept track of far enough to determine the last penalty-free playoff game in the NHL, but it confirmed that it was the first penalty-free playoff game in the past 20 years.
Though Lightning C Vinny Lecavalier said it was a "little frustrating at times," because he believes there were calls that could have been made, some praised refs for letting them play.
"Give the referees credit for not disrupting the flow of the game when there wasn't anything (to call)," G Dwayne Roloson said. "That's why we have the best refs in the world."
MISCELLANY: It was Roloson's 50th career playoff appearance and No. 70 for Lightning D Mattias Ohlund. … It was the 100th game of the season for both teams. They boasted identical records through the first 99 (11-6 in the playoffs, 46-25-11 in regular season). …Former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling attended the game wearing a Bruins jersey. … Roloson played in his 50th postseason game.
Joe Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.