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Lightning power play on roll entering East Final

by Mike G. Morreale /

NEW YORK -- The Tampa Bay Lightning enter the Eastern Conference Final against the New York Rangers with plenty of confidence on the power play.

The Rangers enter with one of the top penalty-killing units through two rounds of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Something will have to give in Game 1 at Madison Square Garden on Saturday (1 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, TVA Sports).

The Rangers penalty kill, which is 25-for-28 (89.3 percent), did not allow a power-play goal to Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin in a five-game, first-round series against the Pittsburgh Penguins and limited Alex Ovechkin to one in a seven-game, second-round series against the Washington Capitals.

The Lightning were 7-for-20 (35 percent) with the man-advantage against the Montreal Canadiens in the second round and have converted on 18 percent of their chances through 13 playoff games.

"Special teams is a funny beast," Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper said Friday. "The power play doesn't have to score every single time, but it can carry momentum for you. I look at the one game in our Montreal series where we didn't get a power play and Montreal got three but didn't score. Even though they didn't score, those power plays were momentum-builders, and our momentum got sucked out of us but it helped them win.

"The bottom line is getting momentum even though you may not score; the bench gets a little taller when you get chances, and you can build off that."

The Lightning power play was much improved against the Canadiens following a 2-for-27 performance in a seven-game, first-round series against the Detroit Red Wings. One adjustment they made against the Canadiens was to take more shots. Tampa Bay generated 24 of its 128 shots on the power play in six games against Montreal, scoring seven of its 16 goals.

"Special teams is probably the difference-maker in this series," Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman said. "In our last series, our power play really came through when we needed it; our third goal (by Ondrej Palat) late in the second period of Game 6 was really big for us."

The Lightning went 4-for-8 with the man-advantage in a 6-2 victory in Game 2 at Bell Centre in Montreal, with Nikita Kucherov scoring twice. It was a turning point for Tampa Bay, which had not scored a power-play goal in 23 straight chances to that point.


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