Tampa Bay is 6-3 all-time in Game 7, including a 2-2 mark on the road. During coach John Cooper’s tenure with Lightning, the team went 3-2 in Game 7.
Exactly 50% of all-time seventh games in the Stanley Cup playoffs have been selected by a one-goal margin. The team that scores the first goal in the game is 138-46 (.75%) in the seventh game of all time.
The Bolts have a record of 11-1 when they scored the first goal in matches when they faced disqualification. Tonight’s win would mark nine consecutive victories for Tampa Bay, a feat only seven teams have achieved in NHL history.
Tampa Bay brings a wealth of experience to tonight’s competition, including the man of defense Ryan McDonagh, who was part of seven Game 7 wins in his career, one shy of tying the all-time NHL record. McDonagh skated in nine games of 7, as did Lightning forward Corey Berry.
Video: Preview | 1st round game 7
Bolts features three players who scored the winning goal in Game 7 in Berry, Alex KillornAnd pat maroon.
Killorn has quietly moved up the Posteason Leaderboards in Lightning in several different categories. On Thursday, he skated in his 117th career playoff game to move up to fourth among the all-time Bolts playoff leaders.
More importantly tonight, Keylorn showed off his clutch performance in the big moments of the post-season. He is currently tied with Ruslan Fedotenko and Brad Richards with the most points (1-2-3 points) in Game 7’s history of the Lightning franchise.
“Obviously you want to be at your best in every playoff, but I think there’s something special about Game Seven,” Killorn explained. “You want to be able to even play at a higher level than we were playing.
“I think what sets the championship teams apart is the ability to rise in these situations.”
The biggest factor entering the Tampa Bay contest tonight may be the man between the pipes, Andrei Vasilevsky. ‘Big Cat’ recorded a close in five consecutive wins entering tonight’s game, an NHL record for consecutive closings in such situations and tied with Chris Osgood and Clint Benedict for the most in NHL history.
“I feel like Vasilevsky is giving us his best every night,” Cooper said on Saturday morning. “No goalkeeper is immune to giving up goals.
“All I know about Vasy is that when the lights shine more brightly, he seems to be standing up and playing his best. I’ve seen him over and over again and I wouldn’t expect anything different tonight.”
Killorn, who has been on all of Vasilevskiy’s clutch shows, has complete faith heading into Game 7.
“Champions and great players are able to raise the bar for their games under the highest pressure,” Killorn said. “I think he showed that in these situations of extreme pressure, when he plays his best hockey. We want to make it as easy as possible for him.”
As tonight’s competition kicks off with a win in Game 6, it’s worth noting that Vasilevsky’s match numbers came as a result of a loss, which is certainly an extremely stressful situation like Killorn described.
Vasilevskiy won 18 ridiculous straight games after a playoff loss, going back to the 2020 qualifier opener knocking out the loss in Game 4 of the 2019 first round series. The Russian netminder has a combined save ratio of 0.942 in those 18 wins. If only there was one goalkeeper Wanting him to tuck into your team at a big moment, it’s hard not to pick Vasilevskiy.
Speaking to the media on Saturday, you can get a feel for what this game means for Cooper. It’s an opportunity for Lightning to extend her historic career and continue forward in pursuit of a third consecutive Stanley Cup.
“The fear of losing can be greater than the desire to win,” Cooper said. “That’s for me personally.” “I think playing with a little fear of losing, that’s a huge motivator.
“I don’t want someone to sit here and say, ‘Well, is it easier because we won two cups? If the Leafs win our best tonight, that’s fine. This is BS.
“We’re standing here on the cusp of greatness. Why the hell don’t we move through that door?”
“Let’s get this. Let’s attack this. If fear is the motive, so be it.”
“I don’t want there to be any excuse if things don’t go well for us tonight like, ‘Oh, it’s okay. We won two. “That would be unacceptable.”
As previously mentioned, Perry and McDonagh have been in this position more than anyone else on Tampa Bay’s roster, having played in nine games in Game 7. They both understand the scale of the moment.
“In your head you’re saying, ‘Yeah, it’s just another hockey game,’ but it’s a 7,” Berry explained. “It’s in the playoffs.
Video: Corey Berry | 1st round game 7
“As a kid, you were on the street saying, ‘Stanley Cup, Game 7,’ whatever. It goes through your head when you’re a kid. That’s the fun stuff. That’s when you make names.”
“You will appear in Game 7, and you will be remembered.”
While tonight’s contest may have more to do with it than just another game, Lightning still has to make sure they stay alert and stick to what got them here. It will be important to limit errors, defend and play to their strengths.
“We have success when we do it as a group of five on the ice,” McDonagh said. “You need everyone to be in their places at breakouts and in pre-screening. You need everyone to play at the same pace with each other, get up and get down on the ice, and like I said, just implement your system and your plan.
“It gives us the best chance of winning, we feel.
“You know every team is going to be pushing hard to find a way. It’s about the little details in the game and then, at the end of the day, the individual players’ will and effort and courage and all those things that you want to put on a line to help your team win.”
The video has been viewed.
Regulations are discussed.
Preparatory work has been completed.
“It’s a player game,” Cooper said. “Sometimes your best training is to get out of the way.
“We’ve got them ready. The papers are ready.
“Now it’s up to the players to come out and execute.”