Tuesday, May 22, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

Who has edge in Lightning-Penguins playoff series? (w/ video)

Goaltending

Ben Bishop (above) has been here before. Penguins rookie goalie Matt Murray has not. But Murray has been outstanding in place of Marc-Andre Fleury (concussion) with a 2.05 goals-against average and a .935 save percentage in the playoffs. Fleury is healthy, so the Penguins have a Cup-winning backup should Murray falter. Bishop, a Vezina Trophy finalist for his play during the regular season, played like a Conn Smythe winner during the first two rounds, posting a 1.89 goals-against average and a .938 save percentage. He also recorded shutouts in the Lightning's two series-clinching victories.

EDGE: Lightning

Forwards

The Penguins have Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, but they also have more than a handful of other goal scorers, including Phil Kessel (12 points) and Nick Bonino (10). The line of Carl Hagelin, Bonino and Kessel scored all the points in the series-clinching OT win against the Capitals in the second round. The Lightning is powered by Tyler Johnson (13 points) and Nikita Kucherov (nine goals). Jonathan Drouin has been the playmaker with eight assists. Brian Boyle (three goals) came up with big goals during the second-round Islanders series. The Penguins' scoring depth could be the difference in the series.

EDGE: Penguins

Defense

Victor Hedman (above left) has nine points in another stellar postseason. The Lightning's unit can get a boost if Anton Stralman (fractured left leg) returns in this series and reunites with Hedman. The Lightning's defense will have its hands full with the Penguins, who have by far the best offense it will face during the first three rounds. The Penguins' defense, led by Kris Letang and Trevor Daley, has been anything but the weak link many thought it would be before the playoffs began.

EDGE: Lightning

Special teams

The Lightning is the best of the remaining playoff teams at killing penalties, which is a good thing because it entered Thursday the most penalized team in the playoffs. That doesn't bode well against the Penguins, whose 27.5 percent success rate on the power play is tied for second among the remaining teams. Kris Letang is the playmaker on Pittsburgh's power play, which produced 11 goals in the first two rounds.

EDGE: Penguins

Coaching

The Lightning, though thrilled to reach the Eastern Conference final, is not satisfied with making the final four. Having lost in last year's Stanley Cup final, it is looking for eight more wins. That comes from Jon Cooper, who has the advantage of having experienced the hot glare of a deep postseason run. Penguins coach Mike Sullivan — in his second NHL head-coaching job and a former NHL assistant — has not. Pittsburgh promoted him from its AHL team before its 29th game of this season. Sullivan has a talented team, but this is the time of year when inexperience tends to show up.

EDGE: Lightning

Intangibles

The Penguins are finally living up to expectations and have the offensive depth that usually takes a team to the Stanley Cup final. The Lightning could get better during this series if Anton Stralman and forward J.T. Brown (upper body) return from injuries. Plus, Steven Stamkos (blood clot) might be closer to returning than the team wants anyone to believe. Maybe. The Lightning does know how to close games, outscoring opponents 13-4 in the third period. The Penguins have not lost a game this season, regular or post, when they have led after two periods (45-0-0).

EDGE: Lightning

Roger Mooney, Times correspondent

 
Comments
The key stat for Lightning-Capitals Game 7? Score first

The key stat for Lightning-Capitals Game 7? Score first

As the Lightning and Capitals prepare for their series finale Wednesday night at Amalie Arena in Tampa, here's a by-the-numbers look at each team's Game 7 history.5-2The Lightning's record in Game 7s. It has never lost at home (3-0).+5The Lightning's...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Lightning-Capitals: Tampa Bay’s Game 7 to-do list

Lightning-Capitals: Tampa Bay’s Game 7 to-do list

TAMPA — By now there are no more secrets. After six games over 11 days, the Lightning knows all the Capitals' habits , and the Caps know all the Lightning's.To Lightning coach Jon Cooper the outcome of tonight's Game 7 of the Eastern Conference...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Lightning journal: You gotta love Game 7s

Lightning journal: You gotta love Game 7s

TAMPA — Welcome to Game 7, the most fun a player can have if he's fortunate enough to play in one. At least, that is how Lightning D Anton Stralman sees tonight's Eastern Conference final finale."I take pleasure in playing a Game 7," Stralman s...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Lightning-Capitals: Tampa Bay’s Game 7 Mr. Essential

Lightning-Capitals: Tampa Bay’s Game 7 Mr. Essential

TAMPA — He's the Lightning's best player. He's its most important player.Well, other than goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy. That's a given. Every team relies most heavily on its goalie.But if the Lightning is going win a nerve-racking, heart-stopping,...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Lightning squanders chance to close out Capitals

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Lightning squanders chance to close out Capitals

The Lightning misses an opportunity to close out the Capitals in Washington, so there will be a Game 7 in Tampa on Wednesday night with a berth in the Stanley Cup final on the line.Andrei Vasilevskiy was fantastic, but the Lightning couldn't match th...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Game 7 odds and ends as you wait for Lightning-Capitals on Wednesday

Game 7 odds and ends as you wait for Lightning-Capitals on Wednesday

For the 33rd time in NHL history, a Stanley Cup semifinal series is headed to a Game 7, where the home teams are 21-11.The Lightning and Capitals meet Wednesday night at Amalie Arena in a win-or-go home game to decide who plays Vegas in the Stanley C...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Stanley Cup final schedule: Tampa Bay-Washington winner vs. Vegas

Stanley Cup final schedule: Tampa Bay-Washington winner vs. Vegas

Here's the schedule for the Stanley Cup final, which starts Monday — in Tampa Bay if the Lightning wins Wednesday and in Vegas if it doesn't:Lightning-Capitals winner vs. Golden Knights(All games on NBC at 8 p.m. ET)Monday, May 28Wednesday, May...
Published: 05/22/18
How to watch Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Washington Capitals Game 7: Game time, TV, live stream

How to watch Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Washington Capitals Game 7: Game time, TV, live stream

There will be a Game 7 in Tampa Wednesday because the Capitals "were the more desperate team," because Alex Ovechkin was running over Lightning players all night Monday in Washington and because Caps goalie Braden Holtby played to perfection.Washingt...
Published: 05/22/18
Lightning-Capitals: Washington forces Game 7 with 3-0 victory

Lightning-Capitals: Washington forces Game 7 with 3-0 victory

WASHINGTON — The Lightning let one get away Monday night. And it might cost Tampa Bay a chance at the Stanley Cup.So now there will be a Game 7 to decide the Eastern Conference. Maybe this is how it should be. Maybe this is how it's supposed to...
Published: 05/21/18
Updated: 05/22/18
Lightning journal: Capitals had a shot at Jon Cooper

Lightning journal: Capitals had a shot at Jon Cooper

WASHINGTON — Interesting how things work out in the world of hockey.Back in 2012, the first NHL team to ever interview Jon Cooper for a head coaching job was actually the Washington Capitals. The Caps general manager at the time was George McPh...
Published: 05/21/18