TORONTO — Corey Perry remembers staging Game 7s in his mind as a kid, playing on the street and pretending he was the hero in the Stanley Cup finale.
“In your head you’re saying, ‘Yeah, it’s just a hockey game,’” Perry said Saturday before the Lightning’s Game 7 against the Maple Leafs. “But yeah, it’s Game 7, it’s the playoffs … These are where names are made.”
Perry was here at Scotiabank Arena last year and helped put an end to the Leafs’ season while playing for Montreal. His goal, which came on a deflection in the second period, gave Montreal a 2-0 lead in the Canadiens’ 3-1 Game 7 win in the first round.
Perry has been in 10 Game 7s over the course of his 17 seasons in the NHL, so he knows how they play out. They’re tight checking and low scoring. Knowing that one false step can mean the season, teams focus on defending their net and don’t take many risks.
“It means I’m getting old, Perry said “It’s exciting. Game 7s are exciting. You never know what can happen. ... You show up for a Game 7 and you’re going to be remembered.”
Perry wouldn’t compare winning last season’s Game 7 in Toronto to tonight. He’s on a different team. Toronto’s roster is different. There are fans back in the arenas, something Canadian teams didn’t have last season. But Perry is one who feeds off the road crowd.
As far as advice for players playing in their first Game 7 — Nick Paul and Brandon Hagel are postseason first-timers — Perry said to just enjoy the moment.
“It doesn’t matter how much experience you have, how little experience you have,” Perry said. “Everybody’s going to have different nerves and react differently. All you can really say to the guys that haven’t been here is enjoy it because this is where names are made, where heroes are made.
“It might not be the big guy, it might be somebody that you’ve never heard of doing something that takes us to the next level. So that’s kind of my message to everybody.”
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