After not scoring a power play goal in over 200 minutes, the Tampa Bay Lightning finally decided it was time to do so. However, they didn’t just stop at one P.P. goal. No, the Lightning took it to the extreme, netting 3 goals with a man advantage, including a one-timer from Steven Stamkos in the 3rd period to put the Lightning up 4-2. Tampa Bay would go on to win 5-4.
I watched the entirety of this game and must say I’m not exactly sure how Tampa Bay pulled this one out. For about a period and a half, the Bruins looked like the superior team, chasing down loose pucks, making crisp passes and showing the Lightning that Game 6 was to be the last hoorah of the season for them. Yet, Boston didn’t come away with a win in this vital Game 6. Why? Because Tampa decided to turn it on when the power play came around. Martin St. Louis, Teddy Purcell, and finally, Steven Stamkos all put in goals during the power play which extended this series to a Game 7 in Boston. The B’s are trying to get back to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since 1990, but a game like last night can suck the life out of any team; a game in which you are seemingly in control, blink, and then find yourself in the locker room hanging your head knowing you came away with the loss.
Boston must find a way to regroup. Their penalty kill must be much better than what it was last night. They must get out of the gate early, ready to go and displaying a killer mentality, a swagger, that shows the Lightning that an extra game is nothing more than just a formality. Tim Thomas must play like, well, Tim Thomas and the defense needs to hold Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis in check. If they do so, then Game 7 will be an afterthought. If not, then the Lightning will reach the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since ’03-04 (they defeated the Calgary Flames in 7 games that year) and the Boston Bruins will be left searching for answers.
As for the Lightning, they have to continue to ride the giant momentum wave they are on right now. They played a game last night that they probably should not have won, yet came away with an ever-important victory to extend the series. Like Boston, it needs to try and get out of the gate early, especially playing a pivotal final game on the road. If they can do that and temper Boston’s attack, specifically David Krejci and Nathan Horton who both are on fire right now, then they have a great chance of reaching the Stanley Cup Finals to face the Vancouver Canucks. If not, then it will be a long, disappointing flight home to Tampa Bay.
Ultimately, Game 7 will come down to who wants it more. Can Boston put Game 6 in the rear-view mirror and clean the slate for Game 7? Can Tampa Bay reach down deep for one more contest and pull out an impressive victory on the road? We will find out tomorrow night in Boston. I, for one, cannot wait.