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Lightning's Boyle, Stralman bring Game 7 experience

by Corey Long / NHL.com

TAMPA -- Tampa Bay Lightning forward Brian Boyle never has lost a Game 7 in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Neither has defenseman Anton Stralman. They understand their success in these moments were a big reason why Tampa Bay signed them last summer.

They hope their undefeated runs continue Wednesday when they play the Detroit Red Wings in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference First Round series at Amalie Arena (7:30 p.m. ET; CBC, NBCSN, TVA Sports 2, FS-D, SUN).

The best-of-7 series is tied at 3-3. The winner will face the Montreal Canadiens in the Eastern Conference Second Round.

"It's exciting," Boyle said. "The buildup is exciting and then the puck drops. The emotions might be a little high but it's still hockey."

Boyle said that going through a Game 7 in the playoffs doesn't get easier with experience and he hopes his teammates don't get a false sense of security after a 5-2 win in Game 6 on Monday.

"It's not time to be at ease," Boyle said. "You can't take your foot off the gas. We should be focused and ready to do what we need to do. Our group has responded well all year. We need to follow up Game 6 with a strong Game 7 and break the trend of how the series has been going back and forth."

When Boyle was remind of his 4-0 record in Game 7s he said, "Stralman is 5-0; you guys should talk to him."

Stralman said his emotions don't change much for an elimination game and he tries to enjoy the moment and the feelings that come with playing on a big playoff stage.

"The main thing is to trust in the system and trust in what you are supposed to do," Stralman said. "We have to stay within the structure and support each other like we have all year."

The trends in the series have been hard to ignore: Both teams are 1-2 at home; neither team has one two games in a row; and the team that has scored first has won five of six games.

Lightning coach Jon Cooper, however, said he doesn't expect the trends will mean much in Game 7.

"Is the first goal the be-all, end-all? It's not, but it's had an effect on this series," Cooper said. "We did come back in Game 4 when we didn't score first. But naturally playing ahead is easier than playing from behind. It's ideal to score first but if you don't you can't change your game plan. It's three periods, play 60 minutes and play from whistle to whistle."

Cooper, however, wants the Lightning to play under control after giving the Red Wings seven power plays in Game 6.

"If there's one thing we have to do it's be more disciplined," Cooper said. "If we're giving up seven power plays we are playing with fire."

The one trend that could be make a difference is the strong play of forward Tyler Johnson.

Johnson scored two goals in Game 6 and has been the Lightning's most clutch performer in the series.

As Steven Stamkos has been held to zero goals and three points in the series, Johnson has found himself pushed to the front of the Lightning attack. However, he said that he expects a collaborative effort in Game 7.

AT THE RINK: RED WINGS

"Everyone is trying to step up because it's the playoffs," Johnson said. "We aren't thinking about who did what last game because [Wednesday] is all that matters. It's about having quality shifts and playing a complete game. The things that we've done to get to this point."

Here are the expected lineups:

RED WINGS

Tomas Tatar - Pavel Datsyuk - Darren Helm

Gustav Nyquist - Henrik Zetterberg - Justin Abdelkader

Joakim Andersson - Riley Sheahan - Tomas Jurco

Drew Miller - Luke Glendening - Landon Ferraro

Jonathan Ericsson - Alexey Marchenko

Danny DeKeyser - Kyle Quincey

Brendan Smith - Jakub Kindl

Petr Mrazek

Jimmy Howard

Injured: Erik Cole (spinal contusion), Johan Franzen (concussion), Marek Zidlicky (undisclosed)

Suspended: Niklas Kronwall

Scratched: Daniel Cleary, Stephen Weiss

LIGHTNING

Alex Killorn - Steven Stamkos - Ryan Callahan

Nikita Kucherov - Tyler Johnson - Ondrej Palat

Vladislav Namestnikov - Valtteri Filppula - Cedric Paquette

Brian Boyle - Brenden Morrow

Victor Hedman - Andrej Sustr

Anton Stralman - Jason Garrison

Braydon Coburn - Matt Carle

Nikita Nesterov

Ben Bishop

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Scratched: Mark Barberio, J.T. Brown, Jonathan Drouin

Status Report: Cooper will stick with 11 forwards and seven defensemen like he did in Games 4 and 6. … Kucherov said he feels fine after the hit he took from Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall and will be ready Wednesday. Kronwall was suspended for Game 7 by the NHL Department of Player Safety for the hit.

Who's Hot: Johnson had two goals in Game 6 on Monday and has six goals in the series. … Kucherov had three assists Monday.

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