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Stamkos excited, ready for first Game 7 experience

By Dave Lozo - NHL.com Staff Writer

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Stamkos excited, ready for first Game 7 experience
He's already shared a Rocket Richard Trophy, but Steven Stamkos is in his first journey through the Stanley Cup Playoffs and facing his first Game 7 as the Lightning face the Penguins.
PITTSBURGH -- Steven Stamkos has never played in a Game 7, but he'll get a taste of it Wednesday night when his Tampa Bay Lightning square off with the Pittsburgh Penguins at Consol Energy Center.

The Lightning have rallied from a 3-1 deficit in this best-of-7 Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series with an 8-2 win here in Game 5 and a come-from-behind 4-2 victory in Game 6 in Tampa.

Stamkos talked with reporters Wednesday morning about his team's state of mind and what he's expecting from himself in his first Game 7.

Q: What are your thoughts on your upcoming first Game 7 NHL experience? Lot of guys in this room going through the same thing?

Stamkos: It's definitely exciting. Probably a little more anxious and nervous toward the game. But everyone in this room has kind of gone through Game 7 the last two games. Our backs were against the wall, 3-1, 3-2, and we were able to get it to a Game 7. I think we realize the pressure that was involved in the last two games and we're going to treat this game just like that.

Q: Do you think a Game 7 will be more intense than what you've experienced so far?

Stamkos: It's obviously going to be a rush of emotions for both teams. It's a do-or-die situation now for Pittsburgh as well. Playing with our backs on the ropes the last two games I think helps us. We're going to be ready. We've won in this building before. It was nice to get the monkeys off our back at home, but all that did was give us an opportunity to play tonight. We'll be ready.

Q: When you look at some great performances in Game 7 over the history of the NHL, do you measure yourself against them and think you could have that same sort of game?

Stamkos: Today, I'm just worried about the win. Obviously, I want to contribute in any way possible. It's nice to get the first Game 7 out of the way on your first try. There's a lot of us who have come into the playoffs with little or no experience, but we've had to learn fast and I think we've adapted really well. We're excited about the opportunity tonight.

Q: There are a lot of young players in this room, but 41-year-old Dwayne Roloson isn't one of them. What has his presence meant to the club?

Stamkos: He's been huge part of our climb back to force a Game 7. It's not surprising for us as players who have seen it game in and game out and every day in practice. His ability at his age is unbelievable. In order to make a run in the playoffs, you need a great goalie, and he's been great for us. He's given us a chance to win. He had that series-saving flurry of saves that kept us in (Game 6). He's been huge for us.

Q: The Penguins' power play has been struggling in this series (1-for-30), but how much of that has been what your penalty killers have done to them?

Stamkos: I think it goes hand-in-hand. A very good penalty kill, like we've had in this series, is what you need in order to stop a power play. I think it starts with your goaltender -- he's the biggest penalty killer. Our defense and our forwards have the willingness to block some shots and sacrifices they've made in sticking to the game plan, they've been huge. A lot of people say special teams are what wins.

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo
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