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Bruins, Lightning battle for Cup Final berth

by Shawn P. Roarke

(Best-of-seven series tied, 3-3)


Big story:
A gutsy effort by the Lightning in Wednesday's Game 6 forced a winner-take-all Game 7 against the Bruins at TD Garden on Friday night. Facing elimination, the Lightning erased a 2-1 deficit in the second period with a three-goal outburst and then held on for a 5-4 victory. Wednesday's game was about the big guns on each team. For Tampa Bay, the Big Three of Vincent Lecavalier, Martin St. Louis and Steven Stamkos combined for eight points and the game-winning goal from St. Louis. Boston, meanwhile, got a hat trick from No. 1 center David Krejci and another goal from top-line winger Milan Lucic.

Team Scope:

Tampa Bay has been behind in this series twice, trailing two games to one and three games to two. Yet the Lightning found a way to rally in the following game and even the series.

Wednesday night, the Lightning used a suddenly resurgent power play to turn a 2-1 deficit in the second period into a 4-2 lead. Those goals -- by St. Louis, Teddy Purcell and Stamkos -- came on consecutive power plays across a span of 12:39 bridging the second and third periods.

St. Louis then scored what proved to be the game-winning goal when he scored on a 2-on-1 with Steve Downie just 29 seconds after Krejci’s power-play tally made it a 4-3 game with more than 10 minutes remaining.

"We knew the importance of this game," Stamkos said. "Like Marty said, we put a lot of pressure on ourselves every night. It was nice to get rewarded. Special teams were great tonight. But once again, Teddy stepped up. He had a huge game. We've had different guys each game step up. Like Marty said, that's why we are where we are. (Dwayne Roloson) made the saves when he had to. I thought we played a real solid defensive game and limited their shots."

Bruins: Twice the Bruins have had the opportunity to take control of this series. The first came in Game 4 when Boston was gunning for a 3-1 lead in series and had a 3-0 lead after the first period, only to lose. Wednesday night, the Bruins could have eliminated the Lightning with a victory and held a 2-1 lead in the second period. Yet they could not hold the lead again and now must play a winner-take-all Game 7.

Despite its inability to hold the lead, Boston has to be happy with some aspects of its game. The top line -- Lucic, Krejci and Nathan Horton -- combined for all four goals and finished with seven points.

Plus, Boston utterly dominated the final 10 minutes of the game, although a Tampa Bay goal -- on a 2-on-1 break -- against the run of play, proved to be the ultimate game-winner.

"You dream about it as a little kid to be in the Final and have a chance to raise the (Stanley) Cup," Krejci said. "We were close (Wednesday) and you don't want to blow it away. There's still one chance and I believe if we play the way we finished the game, we'll be sitting pretty good."

Who's hot: For Boston, Krejci had a hat trick, the first Bruin to score three goals in a playoff game since Cam Neely did it against Montreal 20 years ago. Tomas Kaberle, who has struggled throughout the postseason, had two assists Wednesday night. … For Tampa Bay, the list is extensive. St. Louis had his second multiple-goal game of these playoffs and now has 20 points; only Vancouver’s Henrik Sedin has more. Stamkos put up three points Wednesday. He also had three points in an elimination game against the Penguins. Lecavalier had a pair of assists and sits second in the League with 13. Purcell had his second two-goal night in the past three games.

Injury report: Tampa Bay forward Sean Bergenheim injured himself in Game 5 and has not played since. He took a brief morning skate on Wednesday, but was not ready. He is listed as day-to-day with a lower-body injury. Defenseman Pavel Kubina, who has an upper-body injury, has missed the first six games of the series and is not close to returning. … Boston is relatively healthy and should have all hands on deck for Game 7.

Stat pack: St. Louis' 11 power-play points are the most this postseason. In 62 postseason games, St. Louis has set the following franchise records: goals (33), assists (35), points (68), power-play goals (10), shorthanded goals (3) and game-winning goals (8). … Tampa Bay is 4-0 when Purcell scores a goal. … Krejci's hat trick Wednesday night was the first allowed by Tampa Bay in its playoff history. … Boston's power-play goal, by Krejci in the third period, was its first PPG since Game 2, a stretch of 253 minutes and 20 seconds. The Bruins now have just one goal in 26 power-play attempts on the road this postseason. … Defenseman Johnny Boychuk was on the ice for all five goals by Tampa Bay on Wednesday night.

Puck drop:
"It's something that we've worked hard for all year to get this home-ice advantage, so it's really up to us to feed off the energy from our crowd. We are happy to be home. We've been such a good team on the road all year, but I think in the playoffs we've shown the ability to win at home. And we've been in this situation before in Game 7 at home and we were able to win that game. So hopefully tomorrow night will be a successful one for us." -- Boston forward Greg Campbell

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