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Pregame Notebook: Game 7 vs. Tampa Bay

by Hannah Becker / Boston Bruins – With their 5-4 win in Game 6 on Wednesday night, the Tampa Bay Lightning forced tonight’s Game 7 in Boston.

Both teams have faced a Game 7 situation this postseason and both team’s are prepared for the all-out fight they expect from each other come puck drop tonight.

Special teams, goaltending and goal scoring will all be key components to both teams’ performances on Friday and the squad that executes best is likely to pick up the victory and advance their squad to the Stanley Cup Finals where the Vancouver Canucks await the Eastern Conference Champion.

Either way, the series will end tonight and one team will celebrate into Saturday while another heads home empty handed. Those in and around the Hub of Hockey hope the Bruins will be the former.

Puck drops at 8:12.

Game 6 recap
Despite a David Krejci hat trick, the Tampa Bay Lightning scored three power play goals to beat the Boston Bruins 5-4 and force a Game 7 in Boston on Friday night.

Krejci celebrates with teammate Nathan Horton after scoring his third goal of the game against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the third period in Game 6 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup playoffs Eastern Conference final series in Tampa, Fla., Wednesday, May 25, 2011. Tampa Bay won 5-4. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Once again Tampa Bay took the early lead, this time on a Teddy Purcell blast off the draw just 36 second into the match-up.

But the B’s picked up their play following the goal and finished the period with a 2-1 lead on just eight shots. Forward Milan Lucic tied the game for Boston at the 7:09 mark with his third goal of the postseason.

Just 27 seconds later, the Bruins took their first power play of the game on a Ryan Malone trip on Lucic.

Boston controlled the puck in Tampa’s zone for almost the entire two minutes. While the B’s weren’t able to net a goal, the man-advantage pushed the momentum Boston’s way. 

David Krejci gave Boston the lead at the 16:30 mark. Krejci took a beautiful feed from Daniel Paille and wristed the shot past Dwayne Roloson, who got the starting nod tonight after being passed over in favor of backup Mike Smith in Game 5. 

The line combined for seven points.

The Bolts reclaimed the lead with their third power play goal 13:35, this time Purcell notched the goal for his second of the night. 

Tampa Bay took 1:06 of their third power play into the third period, and scored their third man-advantage tally just 34 seconds into the final frame. 

Boston was able to kill the penalty and just when the Bruins thought they had gotten themselves back in the game with their own power play tally off the stick of Krejci at 9:46, the Bolts struck back just 29 seconds later. 

Stamkos took advantage of a bad pinch by the B’s Johnny Boychuk, which started the 2x1 rush to Boston’s zone and allowed St. Louis to reclaim Tampa’s two-goal lead with his second goal of the night. 

Krejci put the Bruins back within one with under seven minutes to play with his third goal of the night. Krejci’s hat trick was the first for Boston in the playoffs since current Bruins president Cam Neely did in against Montreal in 1991.

Special teams key to Game 7
After the way Wednesday night’s special teams play turned out, it’s no surprise that the Bruins are looking at their power play and penalty kill as they key to Friday night’s Game 7.

Campbell tires to get control of the puck against Tampa Bay Lightning's Marc-Andre Bergeron and Mike Lundin, right, during the first period in Game 6 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup playoffs Eastern Conference final series in Tampa, Fla., Wednesday, May 25, 2011. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
The Bruins finished an underwhelming 1-5 on the power play, while successfully killing off only one of Tampa’s man-advantages.

The Lightning notched three of their five goals on the power play.

“I think last night our power play gave us certain momentum at certain times, obviously we haven’t scored as much as we’ve liked to. But those guys have been working hard creating chances,” forward Gregory Campbell said.  “And at the very least, if those guys aren’t scoring they are creating momentum for us on the next shift.”

The Bruins tried a few different looks on the power play last night, including sliding defenseman Zdeno Chara down in front of Lighting goaltender Dwayne Roloson, a look the Bruins liked in their final power play of Game 5.

Center Patrice Bergeron also saw some time at the point.

“I think we are kind of struggling a little bit yesterday, but we got one goal on the power play so we want to keep the momentum going and hopefully we can get some PP goals tomorrow,” said forward David Krejci, who notched Boston’s only man-advantage goal with his second of three goals on the night.

But it’s not only Boston’s power play that needs to step up tomorrow night. They penalty kill will also be key in stopping Tampa’s potent power play. Prior to last night, the Lightning hadn’t scored a man-advantage goal since Game 2. They made up for lost time with their three goals last night.

“I think that they were having too many good looks especially at the point there, some good shots.  Obviously [Steven] Stamkos is a good shooter, he had two great shots and the first goal they got, was kind of a scramble after that shot,” Bergeron said. 

“But still they shouldn’t, we can’t allow that but at the same time I think it’s about making sure we battle and making sure we get that puck out.”

Boucher prepared for Game 7
In his first year as a head coach in the NHL, Guy Boucher has brought his Tampa Bay Lightning squad to a Game 7 in the Eastern Conference Finals -- a pretty good debut by most standards.

Tampa Bay Lightning coach Guy Boucher listens to a reporter's question during a media availability in Boston, Thursday May 26, 2011. The Lightning are scheduled to face the Boston Bruins in Game 7 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup playoffs Eastern Conference finals on Friday night in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
But with his team standing just a single win away from the Stanley Cup Finals, Boucher isn’t satisfied and sees the tough challenge that Boston presents to his team.

“We  have  enjoyed  the  moment,  I think, since the beginning  of  the Playoffs. I think just the fact of making the Playoffs, it's  the first time in four years that the organization has made it there. So that was an accomplishment,” Boucher said.

“But I think right now we're playing against a team that it's their year.  We know that. They got great acquisitions from players, and they've done everything  they could to be here. So they're very, very tough to beat. And I  think it's something we have to cherish that we're part of that right now.”

Although his squad has already played a Game 7 this postseason, isn’t sure of what to expect tonight.

“I'm not going to expect anything, because every time we expect something the opposite happens,” Boucher said.

“It’s clear  for  us that there's a lot of odds against us. So we're expecting a  lot coming at us.  They've got the crowd on their side. They worked all year  to get the home ice advantage. They got it. That means they’ve got their own match-ups. Their crowd's going to lift them.”

While the competitive Bruins team that Tampa will face tonight is clearly their biggest worry, they also have some in-house issues to deal with. 

The Lightning has featured a bit of a goaltending merry-go-round throughout the first six games. Starter Dwayne Roloson was chased from two games before being passed over in favor of backup Mike Smith for that role in Game 5. But it was Roloson who was back in net for Game 6.

Boucher confirmed Rolos on will also start Game 7.

“If you look at the last six minutes of [Game 6], he was right there and holding the fort. That's what he's done since he's  been  with us. So whether it's during the season or in the playoffs, he's held the fort in those times,” Boucher said.

“So I know him. He’s a competitor. [Friday's] a great day to compete.  So he'll
be competing.”

Tampa was also without their top goal-scorer, Sean Bergenheim, for Game 6, but hope to see him back in the line-up tonight.

“He's going  to have another evaluation [Thursday night] and [Friday] morning.  And we'll see.  But right now it doesn't necessarily look like something positive for 
us,” Boucher said.

Boucher also confirmed that defenseman Pavel Kubina will not be in the Game 7 line-up.
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