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Conference Final

Lightning must generate more offense against Capitals in Game 7

Need to put pressure on Washington, having been outshot in each game of series

by Corey Long / Correspondent

TAMPA -- If the Tampa Bay Lightning are to advance to the Stanley Cup Final, they will have to put together a better offensive effort against the Washington Capitals in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final at Amalie Arena on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN1, TVAS).

The Lightning have been outshot 209-145 in the series, including in each game, and the Capitals have been able to get more traffic in front of the net.

"A lot of that is will," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said Tuesday. "Are you willing to go to those areas that are harder in the ice than other places? Sometimes we've been on that. Sometimes we haven't.


[RELATED: Complete Lightning vs. Capitals series coverage]


"The other thing is, we have not shot the puck near enough and when we have we either miss or they're blocked. Time and time again we look at our shot attempts in the game and we out-shot attempt Washington and they got more shots on net. They're delivering them in spots where some stuff can happen and we're not. We got to be better at that."

One player who can make things happen offensively is Nikita Kucherov. He has five points (one goal, four assists) in the series but missed several scoring chances in Game 6; he hit the crossbar in the second period and Capitals goalie Braden Holtby made a glove save on his breakaway in the third.

"[Kucherov is] a big part of our team -- 40-goal scorer, 100-point guy. We need him," Cooper said. "Our power play has had a lot of success this year and he's a huge part of that, especially in this series. Would you ask this question if that one doesn't ring off the bar with six seconds left (in the second period)? You know what I mean. ... Sometimes it's going you're way, sometimes it's not.

Video: Previewing Game 7 between the Capitals and Lightning

"But what I do know, players with that special talent ... I've seen him rise to the occasion time and time again and I expect nothing different from [Kucherov] tomorrow."

The winner will advance to play the Vegas Golden Knights, and Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman said that he, along with Kucherov, Vasilevskiy and center Steven Stamkos must step up in the biggest game of the season, to help them reach the Cup Final for the second time in four seasons. Tampa Bay lost to the Chicago Blackhawks in six games in 2015.

"You need everyone. But at the same time, we put the pressure on ourselves to be difference makers and we're playing a team that probably has the same mindset," Hedman said. "It's going to be another close game, we know that. We need to be the difference-makers, but we need all 18 guys to come ready to play and do their jobs."


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