TAMPA, Fla. -- Trailing 3-2 in the third period on Tuesday night, the Tampa Bay Lightning needed someone to step up with a big goal.
Enter Steven Stamkos.
A tremendous offensive weapon, Stamkos fired a laser from the between the circles at 5:23 of the third period and Ryan Malone scored 24 seconds later as the Lightning moved within a victory of the Eastern Conference Final with a 4-3 victory against the Washington Capitals at the St. Pete Times Forum.
Stamkos, who now has four goals this postseason, spoke with reporters after the game.
Q: How were guys able to turn things around again in the third period like you have these last couple of games?
A: I think today we didn't sit back. We weren't afraid to lose; we were hungry to win. That was the message relayed between the second and third (periods). The second wasn't a great period. We took penalties, we sat back. But in the third, we really went after them. We tied it up and still went after them. Even when we went ahead, we were still forechecking. We weren't sitting back as much into the 1-3-1. It goes back to structure and everyone paying attention to details and not being afraid to lose. We realized the magnitude of this game. They win, they're right back in this series. Obviously it's not over yet, but that was a big win for our team.
Q: Can you describe your goal and how it got set up?
A: Heddy (Victor Hedman) did a great job on the boards. He got the puck in and I just got the puck in the middle and tried to shoot against the grain. Lucky enough, it went in. Maybe I had a little extra adrenaline in the shot. It was nice to get one. Obviously, it was a big goal for our team. We just carried the momentum from there.
Q: And then Ryan Malone scores 24 seconds later. How huge was that?
A: That's our team right there. We keep coming at you. Obviously, you can never predict scoring that quickly after a goal, but when that one went in, the momentum just shifted. We didn't sit back. We kept pressuring them and we didn't give them much. The last three or four minutes, the guys did a great job of managing the puck and getting it out and winning big draws and blocking shots. It was a great team win.
Q: You're up 3-0 in this series. That sounds commanding, doesn't it?
A: Yeah, it sounds commanding, but we all know what's (happened) years in the past and obviously with the one in the first round that it's never over until it's over. It's obviously a lot better than 2-1, so we'll take that. We deserved it tonight, especially in the third the way we played. We'll take it from there. We don't have much time to regroup. We've got to refocus, reload and come out hard tomorrow.
Q: Do you have to keep your foot on the gas pedal?
A: For sure. We can't let up. You see in the Vancouver series (against Chicago) what happens when you do. Games 4 and 5 were blowouts for Chicago and they got the momentum right back in the series and they went to 7. We can't make that mistake.
Q: Are you gaining more confidence as the playoffs go on?
A: I think everyone in this room gets a lot more comfortable as the playoffs go on. For me personally, this is obviously my first playoff experience. I've learned a lot and you have to learn fast with how quick these series go. I definitely feel a lot more confident, comfortable in every situation. We're into the playoffs for a little while now. You just keep progressing.
Q: There was a report near the end of the game that Wayne Fleming is alert and talking. How much more special does that make this night for your team?
A: We just got word of that, so we're obviously very excited about that. It's still a long battle for him and he's a fighter. All we can do now is pray for him and his family. It was a big win for him tonight.
Follow Brian Compton on Twitter: @BComptonNHL