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Tie series, pivotal Game 5 what Lightning expected

by Corey Long /

BRANDON, Fla. -- Tampa Bay Lightning coach Jon Cooper didn't expect the Eastern Conference First Round series against the Detroit Red Wings to end quickly, and he was right.

Tampa Bay tied the best-of-7 series at two games apiece with a 3-2 win in Game 4 on Thursday. Now each team faces a pivotal Game 5 at Amalie Arena on tap for Saturday (6 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports, FS-D, FS-F).

"This is where we are now and this is where I expected us to be," Cooper said. "We are both 100-point teams, they are one of the best defensive teams in the League. They had just one more regulation loss than we do, so the margin of error between the two teams is minimal."

The Lightning, however, were looking at a two-game deficit with 5:26 left in regulation Thursday before Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat scored to send the game to overtime. Johnson scored his second goal of the game at 2:25 into the overtime period for the win.

"At this stage there aren't many surprises left," Lightning center Brian Boyle said. "We've seen their best and they've seen us play some good hockey too. It's all about who wants to do those little things and who can take advantage of the breaks."

Cooper said he was happy using 11 forwards and seven defensemen in Game 4 and would consider it again Saturday.

"I thought it worked out well and [Jason] Garrison looked good," Cooper said. "So I feel comfortable with seven defensemen if we decide to stick with that and I feel good with Garrison going if we only use six defensemen."

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