1. Lightning

Penguins' Malkin guarantees victory in Game 6

Evgeni Malkin battles the Lightning's Matt Carle during Game 5.
Evgeni Malkin battles the Lightning's Matt Carle during Game 5.
Published May 23, 2016

The Lightning is going to have to go back to Pittsburgh.

At least, that's according to Penguins star Evgeni Malkin, who is confident his team can win Tuesday in Game 6 at Amalie Arena and force a Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final Thursday in Pittsburgh.

"I believe in my team. I believe in myself," Malkin said. "We're coming back to Pittsburgh (for Game 7) for sure."

The Lightning rallied to beat Pittsburgh 4-3 in overtime Sunday, overcoming a two-goal, second-period deficit. Nikita Kucherov, with two goals, forced overtime with three minutes left in regulation, Tyler Johnson scoring the winner 53 seconds into overtime.

The Lightning didn't have any issues with Malkin's statement, saying it's only natural.

"What's he supposed to say in that situation? 'We're done. We're just going down as a formality'?" coach Jon Cooper said. "Of course they're going to say they're going to win, and they should. They're a good team, a good, confident group, but we feel the same way. But, look, you've got to win four, and we're a little closer to four than they are, but you've still got to get four, and that's all our group is thinking about is let's just get that fourth one."

The big question for Tuesday's Game 6 is who will be in goal for the Penguins? Marc Andre Fleury made his first start of the playoffs Sunday, giving up four goals and admitting he was rusty. Pittsburgh could turn to 21-year-old rookie Matt Murray, who helped lead them to the conference final. Coach Mike Sullivan said they'll make that decision Tuesday morning.

"This is an imperfect situation," Sullivan said. "I've said this all along. It's hard for all of us. We wish the circumstances were different, but they're not. That's the nature of the business that we're in. All we can do is make the best decisions that we think we can to help the team win, and players got to control what they can and put their best foot forward, and that's what we did."