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Penguins, Lightning play Game 7 for spot in Final

Vasilevskiy will start for Tampa Bay; Murray likely for Pittsburgh

by Wes Crosby / Correspondent


Eastern Conference Final

Best-of-7 series tied 3-3

TV: 8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports

PITTSBURGH -- Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Ben Bishop, who has been out with a lower-body injury since the first period of Game 1, participated in the morning skate, but will not return against the Pittsburgh Penguins for Game 7 at Consol Energy Center on Thursday. He said he continues to progress and hopes to return if the Lightning advance to the Stanley Cup Final.

Andrei Vasilevskiy, who was the first goalie off the ice, will start. He has allowed at least three goals in each of his five starts this series and got some advice from Bishop.

"We talked a little bit," Bishop said. "I just told him 'Deep breaths, stay calm.' There's going to be a lot of emotion out there, but the thing is, just worry about stopping the puck. Don't make the game bigger than it is. It's still just another game."

Video: PIT@TBL, Gm6: Vasilevskiy stops Bonino's chance

Lightning captain Steven Stamkos (blood clot), who has not played since March 31, is not expected to play; He said his status has not changed.

Stamkos said he is confident his teammates can win Game 7 in the Eastern Conference Final on the road for a second consecutive season.

"The guys have done a great job of getting us a chance to be one game away from the Stanley Cup Final," Stamkos said. "You talk about that at the beginning of the year, especially after what we went through last year."

The Penguins are expected to use the same lines and defensive pairings from their 5-2 Game 6 win at Amalie Arena on Tuesday.

All healthy Pittsburgh players were present for their morning skate Thursday.

"The only change is there will be a handshake after the game," Penguins forward Patric Hornqvist said.

Rookie goalie Matt Murray, who turned 22 on Wednesday, likely will start a second game since being replaced by goalie Marc-Andre Fleury in Game 5. He made 28 saves in his return Tuesday for his 10th Stanley Cup Playoffs win in 14 starts.

Video: PIT@TBL, Gm6: Murray denies Brown with his pad

"[Murray] takes each game as it comes and he controls what he can," Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. "He's a great competitor. He's got a great makeup and I believe he's going to do what he's done for us this whole postseason."

Defenseman Olli Maatta will play a third game in place of injured defenseman Trevor Daley, who will miss the remainder of the playoffs with a broken ankle. Before returning in Game 5, Maatta had been healthy scratched the previous three games.

Maatta skated with Ben Lovejoy, his defensive partner from Game 6, again Thursday. Defenseman Brian Dumoulin was paired with Kris Letang.

Since his return, Maatta's performance has improved with one assist in each of his past two games, averaging nearly 20 minutes.

"I'm excited," Maatta said. "I've had a lot of fun playing out there. I never want to sit out games, but the last couple games have been a lot of fun. And I think that just needs to be the mindset. Just embrace the moment. It's Game 7. Just go out there, have fun and compete."

Here are the projected lineups:


Ondrej Palat - Tyler Johnson - Jonathan Drouin

Alex Killorn - Vladislav Namestnikov - Nikita Kucherov

J.T. Brown - Valtteri Filppula - Ryan Callahan

Cedric Paquette - Brian Boyle - Slater Koekkoek

Victor Hedman - Anton Stralman

Jason Garrison - Andrej Sustr

Matt Carle - Braydon Coburn

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Kristers Gudlevskis

Injured: Ben Bishop (lower body), Steven Stamkos (blood clot)

Scratched: Mike Blunden, Jonathan Marchessault, Nikita Nesterov, Matt Taormina, Luke Witkowski, Erik Condra, Joel Vermin


Conor Sheary - Sidney Crosby - Patric Hornqvist

Chris Kunitz - Evgeni Malkin - Bryan Rust

Carl Hagelin - Nick Bonino - Phil Kessel

Tom Kuhnhackl - Matt Cullen - Eric Fehr

Brian Dumoulin - Kris Letang

Olli Maatta - Ben Lovejoy

Ian Cole - Justin Schultz

Matt Murray

Marc-Andre Fleury

Injured: Kevin Porter (ankle surgery), Scott Wilson (lower body), Trevor Daley (ankle)

Scratched: Jeff Zatkoff, Derrick Pouliot, Oskar Sundqvist, Beau Bennett, Kael Mouillierat, Jean-Sebastien Dea, Daniel Sprong, Tim Erixon, Josh Archibald, Dominik Simon, Steve Oleksy, Tristan Jarry

Status report: Sheary is expected to play in a second consecutive game since being healthy scratched and replaced by Bennett in Game 5.

Who's hot: Crosby has scored each of Pittsburgh's three game-winning goals this series. He is second on the Penguins with 15 playoff points, three fewer than Kessel … Drouin has scored one point in four of the series' six games. Three of his four playoff goals have been scored this series.

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