Tampa Bay Lightning Refuse to Lose: Force Game 7

By on May 26, 2011

Teamwork!!! The Tampa Bay Lightning celebrate their power play goal together in the second period. Stamkos, Brewer, Lecavalier, Gagne, St. Louis. (photo by Kim Klement/US Presswire)

Tampa, Fl. ( RSEN)–It’s truly magical to watch when “Will meets Skill” to go along with a refusal to lose.  This is what the fans around the NHL watched tonight as the Tampa Bay Lightning forced game seven against the Boston Bruins with a 5-4 victory at the St Pete Times Forum.

When games are the biggest and the lights are the brightest, one of the biggest plays of the year for the Lightning was made by one of the champions in the locker room, Marty St. Louis, as he scored on a back hand to tie the score at 2 at 7:55 of the second period.

It came none too soon for the Bolts, as the team was scrambling to get the tying goal.  It almost appeared the team was playing a little tight for the first time all year as they appeared to be feeling the pressure of an elimination game in the Eastern Conference Finals. 

St. Louis talked before the game that himself, Lecavalier and Stamkos had to come up big tonight; well those guys combined for 8 points, with Stamkos and St. Louis each having three points and Lecavalier chipping in with two assists.

“This is why you play the game; these are the games that gets your fire going.” St Louis described why he plays well in big games for his team.

“I expected those guys to come up big tonight and they did.” As Guy Boucher spoke about his stars’ big game as a group in helping the team he leads win an elimination game .

Lightning captain Vinny Lecavalier started the night off well for the Bolts as he cleanly won a faceoff back to Teddy Purcell who was able to rip a wrist shot stick side past Bruins goalie Tim Thomas to open the scoring 36 seconds into the game.  On the play, David Krejci was tossed from the faceoff circle and Purcell made an adjustment moving directly behind Lecavalier which allowed him to get rid of the puck quickly to beat Thomas for the 1-0 early lead.

The crowd at the St Pete Times Forum was electric pregame and when Purcell scored the building stood as one to cheer the goal.  This shows how great the fans in this city of have been all year long and it should be said because the national media continues to disregard the fans in this market place as not being good sports fans.

Bruins forward Milan Lucic quieted the raucous crowd with a wrist shot from above the face off circles which beat Lightning goaltender Dwayne Roloson glove side.  The score canme at 7:09 to tie the score at 1.  It was a goal that was made difficult because Victor Hedman was not aggressive enough on the puck missing a chance to poke check it away from Lucic in which he was able to shoot the puck between Hedman’s legs which acted as a screen.

Another turnover at the blue line costs the Lightning as Stamkos  fumbles the puck to Daniel Paille as he fed Krejci who again shot high to the glove side on Roloson to give Boston the lead 2-1 at 16:30 of the first period.  It was amazing the flow of the game early was tilted in Tampa favor but when Boston scored the tying goal it seemed to halt the momentum in the game.  

A star may have been born in the series for the Bolts; as Teddy Purcell scored his second goal of the game, which gives him four goals in the last three games and a total of five goals in the series. Purcell’s second goal gave the Bolts the lead on the power play at 13:35 of the second period as Lightning fans belted out “Ole Ole Ole” to the heavens as their team answered the call of the pressure of the Eastern Conference Finals with an inspired effort and will not to lose. 

The power play came through big once again the Lightning scored their third power play goal of the game as Steven Stamkos extended the Lightning lead to 4-2 only 34 seconds into the third period.  Stamkos scored from his office on the right face-off dot on the power play as he muscled the puck past Thomas and “Hammer Time” played in the Forum again.

“Power plays were the difference tonight and I also didn’t agree with all of the calls tonight.  With all of the talk before the game, I would be disappointed if that made a difference.”  Julien lamented after the game as the Lightning went 3 for 4 on the power play.

Boucher was quick to point out that Boston had more power play chance than his club, “Five chances to four chances tonight, so who really had the advantage.”

Krejci made things interesting for the Bruins as he knocked in a power play goal at 9:46 of the third to cut the lead at one.  31 seconds later Stamkos flipped a puck to center ice that started a masterful 2 on 1 between Steve Downie and St Louis in which he scored his second goal of the game to give the Lightning back their two goal lead.

Are kidding me… Boston icon Cam Neely rose up and cheered in the press box one more time as his team continued to battle which lead Krejci completing his hat trick, as he was able to tip a puck from Lucic past Roloson to cut the Tampa lead to one at 5-4 with just less than 7 minutes on the clock. 

This game alone has typified this series with the ebb and flow changes within the game just as it has in the series itself and certainly should be placed in a vault for the NHL in the future.

Tampa was once again counted out before the game even started; and again after Boston  took a lead into the first intermission.  But this special group of players and coaches continued to amaze all who has followed them this year.  They play this game for each other and it was truly amazing to watch them believe in one another to bring this franchise to another game seven in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and Boucher deserves the credit for developing that culture in the locker room.

This series has been unlike any series in the NHL in years as no one can predict what is going to happen next.  The big winner in that kind of scenario is the fans of the NHL as these two teams have shown the world why the Stanley Cup Playoffs are truly the best thing in sports today.

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