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Tampa Bay Lightning's theme song no jive talkin'

PITTSBURGH — The song, as hideous as it is familiar, was turned up to a festive volume when the doors to the locker room flew open at the conclusion of Game 6 on Monday night.

Stayin' alive, stayin' alive, ah, ha, ha, ha, stayin' alive, stayin' alive

Once, it was the epitome of a rather vacuous era in music and society. Later, it served as a sort of unofficial punch line of the disco style and sound.

Today, it is the soundtrack of a hockey season.

Stayin' alive, stayin' alive, ah, ha, ha, ha, stayin' alive, stayin' alive

This is the anthem the Tampa Bay Lightning has chosen, and it fits like a fine pair of platform shoes. It's a little different, a bit goofy and completely relevant.

And not just because the Lightning survived two elimination games to force a Game 7 against the Penguins tonight, for this theme was adopted before the series began.

It is the motto of a franchise that no longer gives in or gives up. It is the battle cry of athletes who have spent a season learning what it means to be relentless.

"For me, it's not: 'We're going to a seventh game.' We just played what were two seventh games for us," said Lightning coach Guy Boucher. "I know (the Penguins) haven't, because their backs weren't against the wall. Ours have been against the wall for a little while now, I'll tell you that."

These players have survived cowboys in the owners' suite, red ink in the general ledger and a revolving door in their ranks. And still they live on.

They have survived a star's epic scoring slump, the demise of a pair of goaltenders, and damaged appendages, nerves and egos. And still they play on.

When the season was down to its potential final 60 minutes Saturday, and again Monday, it was revived by players with no postseason experiences to draw on.

Look at Steven Stamkos, Teddy Purcell and Steve Downie. Not a one has seen a birthday beyond 25, and none had scored in an NHL postseason before Saturday.

Yet, in the two games since, they have combined for four goals and seven assists, and the Lightning has climbed back into the series in an emphatic way.

"Sometimes you don't have a choice," said Marty St. Louis. "When you're down 3-1 in a series, you better grow up fast."

When the light at the end of the tunnel was near, the Lightning was rescued by a goaltender old enough to remember when the Bee Gees topped the charts.

Look at Dwayne Roloson. On New Year's Eve he was an unlikely savior, playing sporadically for a dreadful team in New York and wasting one of the remaining seasons of a fine career.

Now, four months later, the 41-year-old is one victory away from becoming the second-oldest goaltender to win a playoff series in NHL history.

This is what the Lightning has given you in 2010-11: A new owner, GM and coach. New players coming aboard monthly, and a new outlook on hockey. The unexpected high of a regular season giving way to the decreasing air of the postseason.

It has been seven years since the Lightning advanced in the playoffs, and the franchise has never won a series when it was not the higher seed.

Now, after 1,446 regular-season games, 57 playoff games and 18 seasons, the Lightning is in a Game 7 for just the third time.

"I'll be honest. I want to win this series," Boucher said. "But the bigger picture to me is how fast our boys are learning and how they're ready to fight every night with always a bit more … a bit more poise in this and a bit more poise in that.

"That's what's really been exciting to me. Watching them learn and watching them grow, and having some success along the way."

Stayin' Alive is no longer just a song, or a slogan. For the Lightning, it is an attitude. It is what comes from having another team push you around. It is what remains when the statistics and the glory are stripped away.

"You think you know what it means to play hard, and then you get in a series like this and you realize what hard really looks like," said Ryan Malone. "If you miss one assignment on a faceoff, it could be your guy who scores, and that could be the difference in the game and the series. Any little mistake is amplified."

By night's end, the Lightning will be moving on. Either to the next series or the next offseason. Someone will ride out a hero, or someone will walk off with regret.

By night's end, we'll know whether the song plays on.

Tampa Bay Lightning's theme song no jive talkin' 04/26/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 26, 2011 10:14pm]
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