NHL: Penguins beat Lightning to force Game 7

Laura Christensen
May 30, 2016

"He's 21 years old, but he plays like he's 30".

The Lightning have been here before: One year ago, they lost a potential close-out game on home ice, then won a Game 7 on the road at Madison Square Garden.

But the Lightning recognize the unique challenge playing a Game 7 represents.

The Lightning are without their best player in Steven Stamkos and No. 1 goaliie in Ben Bishop. The Lightning have allowed 81 high-danger scoring chances at 5-on-5, with a high-danger scoring chance differential of minus-29 for the series. "We'll kind of be in that maybe you can play, maybe you can't".

This year, the Lightning held a 3-2 series lead over the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Now that the Penguins have forced a Game 7, if successful, Pittsburgh has the opportunity to move on to the Stanley Cup Finals in front of its home crowd.

Bishop is still targeting the Cup Final, if the team advances, to return. "I mean, Game 7 in the Conference Final to get another crack at the Stanley Cup, we'll be ready". But this is different. Just like previous year, we were in the same exact spot.

This is such a game. The Lightning goaltender is 3-3 this postseason with a 2.87 GAA and a. 921 save percentage.

Sullivan said he was switching back to Murray because "just like we make all our lineup decisions, we try to put players on the ice that we think give us the best chance to win". "You want to contribute". Considering the absences, what the Lightning have done this postseason and this series is all the more impressive. If one goes in that he thinks he should have had, he just refocuses and he plays.

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Certainly, Vasilevskiy has made crucial saves in the Lightning wins and can't really be blamed for any of the goals in the Lightning losses. "But he has been tremendous". He has 15 points; three goals and 12 assists. For 40 minutes it did not matter who was in goal. The game can continue to build the mythos of a building that sorely lacked one before this year, at least in terms of good things happening to its chief tenant. That's because the Lightning rallied for a 4-3 overtime win in Game 5 at Pittsburgh on Sunday after falling behind 2-0. And four (not counting the empty-netter) in Game 6's 5-2 loss.

"He has made big save after big save for us", Cooper said.

Backup Andrei Vasilevskiy has stepped in and performed admirably.

The Pens' top guns already delivered once in a must-win Game 6. "It's still just another game". From the first faceoff, the Penguins were dominant and playing at the sort of pace expected of a team with its back against the proverbial wall. Bishop has done that in his career. "I've got confidence in this group. There's no two better words than that".

What do you think of the NHL's policy? He is an outstanding goalie, maybe even potentially truly special.

Both of these goaltenders could be stars in the league one day, but both are getting the opportunity that every goalie dreams of nearly right away. He played a lot of games. Something like this has to be disappointing on a whole new level. He has won a game in Pittsburgh in this series.

"You guys always insinuate that if someone doesn't play [means that] they [have been] benched, and that wasn't the case at all", Sullivan said.

Let's see if that's the sentiment around 11 o'clock tonight.

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