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Lightning can advance to Cup Final with Game 6 win

by Corey Long / NHL.com

TAMPA -- For the third consecutive series in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Tampa Bay Lightning have the opportunity to advance on home ice when they face the New York Rangers in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final at Amalie Arena on Tuesday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).

The Lightning hold a 3-2 lead in the best-of-7 series. However, the Rangers have proven they will not leave the playoffs quietly after trailing the Washington Capitals 3-1 in the second round and winning Game 6 on the road 4-3 before advancing in seven games.

"Their backs are against the wall, and we've seen how resilient they have been all year," Lightning captain Steven Stamkos said. "We need to not only match their desperation, their compete level ... everything. We need to be at another level [Tuesday] than we've shown all playoffs."

The Lightning have played well in these situations for most of the playoffs. Trailing 3-2 in the first-round series against the Detroit Red Wings, Tampa Bay won Game 6 on the road 5-2 and closed out the series with a 2-0 win in Game 7. In the second round against the Montreal Canadiens, the Lightning put together one of their best performances in the playoffs with a 4-1 win in Game 6 to advance to the conference final.

"We had that Game 7 mentality against Montreal in Game 6 at home," Stamkos said. "Hopefully we'll play the same way [Tuesday]."

After winning Games 2 and 3 of this series by scoring six goals in each, Tampa Bay proved it could play a gritty, defensive style in Game 5 on Sunday when it won 2-0 at Madison Square Garden. The Lightning blocked 26 shots in the game and tightened up their penalty kill, holding the Rangers without a goal on four power plays.

Defenseman Anton Stralman said the Lightning have shown they can win games a number of different ways.

"I think it was great," Stralman said. "You've seen a lot of different Tampa Bay Lightning's throughout this playoffs. Lot of different games, lot of weird games. But I think that was one of our more consistent games. We played for 60 minutes. We played smart and did a good job on the forecheck. We played really disciplined within our system, and that's what we want to do. We win a lot of pucks in the neutral zone, and when we do that we go on the offense quick and we've got good shooters that can score."

Forward Ryan Callahan said the Lightning have shown a lot of maturity in the playoffs with the way they have battled from deficits and come through in times of adversity. He said it's a much different team than the one that was swept by the Canadiens in the first round in 2014.

"We didn't have a good outing in the postseason last year, but I think in the first round we beat those demons and got past that," Callahan said. "And we're not satisfied by any means. You get this far and you want to go farther. There's still a lot of work that has to be done."

Here are the projected lineups:

RANGERS

Rick Nash - Derick Brassard - J.T. Miller

Chris Kreider - Derek Stepan - Jesper Fast

Carl Hagelin - Kevin Hayes - Martin St. Louis

Tanner Glass - Dominic Moore - James Sheppard

Ryan McDonagh - Dan Girardi

Marc Staal - Dan Boyle

Keith Yandle - Kevin Klein

Henrik Lundqvist

Cam Talbot

Scratched: Ryan Bourque, Matt Hunwick, Chris Summers

Injured: Mats Zuccarello (upper body)

LIGHTNING

Alex Killorn - Valtteri Filppula - Steven Stamkos

Ondrej Palat - Tyler Johnson - Nikita Kucherov

Brian Boyle - Cedric Paquette - Ryan Callahan

J.T. Brown - Brenden Morrow

Victor Hedman - Anton Stralman

Braydon Coburn - Jason Garrison

Matthew Carle - Andrej Sustr

Nikita Nesterov

Ben Bishop

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Scratched: Mark Barberio, Jonathan Drouin, Jonathan Marchessault, Vladislav Namestnikov

Injured: None

Status report: Paquette came on the ice for the morning skate but left a few minutes into the session. He appeared to injure his hand when it was a struck by a shot Sunday in Game 5. Cooper said Paquette is questionable. If Paquette doesn't play, Namestnikov could be his replacement. ... Coburn (illness) was a full participant in the morning skate Tuesday.

Who's hot:
Stamkos has scored a goal in each of his past four games. ... Palat had an assist in Game 5 and has six points (three goals, three assists) in his past five games.
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