May 20, 2022

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TAMPA — Steven Stamkos is aware of what’s coming.

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A uncommon second in sports activities that leads the Recreation 7 area, particularly when a combined success streak just like the one Stamkos’ Lightning and Maple Leafs have put collectively over the previous couple of weeks is set.

And after the winner of Briden Level 18:04 in extra time on the electrical Amalie Area on Thursday night time, each groups are heading there.

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So what to anticipate on Saturday night time on the Scotiabank Area, when the two-time reigning Stanley Cup champions attempt to execute the Leafs as soon as once more within the first spherical?

“It is such as you’re taking part in three overtimes (the entire recreation),” the Lightning’s captain mentioned after a contest wherein each groups traded benefits and scoring alternatives. “That’s the worth of every shift. Mistake. Penalty or an excellent block… you do not know what the second will probably be within the seventh recreation. You actually need to put it on the road.”

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After all, over the past two playoff seasons, the Lightning did a fairly good job of it.

This confirmed post-season pedigree often means one thing right now of 12 months, and it positively made a distinction on Thursday. When the Leafs scored three unanswered targets within the second interval – two of them within the final 37 seconds – the Leaf Nation smelled victory.

Not so quick.

Nonetheless, the Lightning did not chew, and once they got a 5-on-3 powerplay halfway by way of Recreation 3, they responded with a Nikita Kucherov objective that finally despatched the sport into extra time.

“I’ve watched them do it many instances,” Lightning coach John Cooper mentioned of his powerplay. “Clearly we needed to have it there.”

That it got here to this was partly because of Stamkos, who reached out to the crew between two and three intervals and begged them to keep in mind that the sport wouldn’t be determined till 60 minutes or later.

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“Stammer had just a few phrases for us,” mentioned Anthony Cirelli, who scored the Lightning’s second objective of the night time. “We had a reboot. We needed to present power and follow our plan.”

As attention-grabbing as the sport was—virtually from begin to end—it wasn’t inventive magnificence. There have been abuses and distributions from each groups, however the resilience by no means wavered.

And when Level scored a free puck in entrance of Leafs goaltender Jack Campbell, his perseverance paid off.

Stamkos mentioned a lot of that persistence was instilled within the Lightning’s gamers based mostly on the expertise of the previous two seasons.

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“Now no person cares what the primary 5 video games have been like,” Stamkos mentioned. “Recreation 7s, as they are saying, is tossing a coin. You by no means know what’s going to occur.

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“This time of the 12 months it is all about profitable and this group has confirmed that we do not care the way it’s completed. we simply wish to do it.

“We depend on previous expertise. We have been on this place not too way back. The final time we had a kind of, it was one of many largest wins in franchise historical past.”

Given the attractive aspect of this matchup between two extremely expert groups, it needs to be no shock that it is shifting in direction of Recreation 7. It is already been an emotional journey for followers of each groups, an emotion that can trigger congestion in Toronto.

“Our concept is that this can be a nice crew that performs nicely at residence,” mentioned the winner of the sport Level. “The constructing will sway.

“You’ll be able to draw on previous expertise, however you’re simply taking part in. You are attempting to do the whole lot you possibly can to maintain them from scoring and concentrate on limiting their probabilities.”

And sure, as world-famous Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman put it, it is some of the thrilling moments within the sport.

“It began out as a better of seven, then it was a greatest of 5 and a better of three,” mentioned Hedman, who recorded 31 minutes and 43 seconds of taking part in time. “Now it is the very best recreation ever.

“We imagine in our group.”

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