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Lightning not getting stressed about Game 7

by Corey Long /

TAMPA -- Defenseman Anton Stralman said the Tampa Bay Lightning will treat Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Friday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports) like any other game.

The Lightning practiced at Amalie Arena on Thursday before heading to New York. The best-of-7 series is tied 3-3 after the Rangers' 7-3 win in Game 6 on Tuesday.

Stralman is 6-0 in Game 7 during his NHL career, including five wins with the Rangers and one this season. He said his approach to each game has been consistent regardless of the situation.

"For me it doesn't really matter if it's Game 7 or the first game of the season or Game 80," Stralman said. "It doesn't change for me. The stakes get higher and higher the more you move on through the [Stanley Cup] Playoffs, but the game on the ice stays the same. I don't think you have to do anything to amp yourself up; it kind of takes care of itself."

One thing the Lightning will have to prepare for is Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist, who has saved his best performances for these situations. Lundqvist has won his past six Game 7s with an 0.84 goals-against average.

"He's very competitive, first and foremost," Stralman said of Lundqvist. "I've never met or played with another player that's more competitive than him. It seems like when the pressure is on and the stakes are high, he seems to find his best games. He excels with the weight on his shoulders."

Tampa Bay is 6-3 on the road in the playoffs and goalie Ben Bishop, in his first NHL Game 7, shut out the Detroit Red Wings, making 31 saves in a 2-0 victory.

Like Stralman, Bishop said he's not going to change anything.

"You keep it as simple as possible," Bishop said. "You prepare the same way you've done since training camp. Obviously, [Friday] has a little more meaning to it, but you can't look at it like that. You just have to play it like it's any other game."

The fact that the Lightning appeared to be focused yet relaxed during practice should be a good omen. At times in the playoffs it's appeared Tampa Bay has succumbed to the pressure of playing in front of its fans at Amalie Arena, where the Lightning are 5-5.

Forward Tyler Johnson said there is too much being made of the Lightning's home and road records.

"I don't think it really matters where you play to be honest; it doesn't make a big difference," Johnson said. "It's nice to play in front of your fans and have the home crowd behind you. But at the same time, when you start the game, it's still 0-0. It doesn't matter if you are home or on the road. I don't know why the success has been [on the road]. It's different from the way the regular season has been for us. But you can't look at that. It's one game here, and that's all we're focused on."

The two days off allowed the Lightning to get some rest and get healthy. Forward Cedric Paquette was a full participant in practice; he missed Game 6 because of a hand injury sustained blocking a shot in Game 5.

The Lightning also appear to have moved past an illness that had been affecting some players. Coach Jon Cooper implied that defenseman Braydon Coburn vomited on the bench during the first period of Game 5.

Johnson was another player who reportedly was hit by the illness, but he was coy when asked about it.

"I don't know what you're talking about," Johnson said.

Stralman said he felt confident that whatever had been ailing the Lightning had run its course.

"I haven't seen anybody yet that's feeling down," he said. "So hopefully it's passed."

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