National Hockey League
Tampa Bay at Pittsburgh
When: 8:00 PM ET, Thursday, May 26, 2016
Where: Consol Energy Center, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

The Tampa Bay Lightning attempt to take the same route they encountered last year on the way to the Stanley Cup Finals when they visit the Pittsburgh Penguins for a deciding Game 7 on Thursday. The Lightning lost at home to the New York Rangers in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals in 2015 before winning on the road three days later as the franchise improved to 5-1 in Game 7s.

Brian Boyle said Tampa Bay must regroup and fellow forward Ryan Callahan reiterated the team’s confidence while Lightning coach Jon Cooper told reporters after Tuesday’s 5-2 loss: “They volleyed the ball into our court. Now it’s time for us to smash it back.” Tampa Bay, which is 5-2 on the road in the postseason and 2-1 at Pittsburgh in this series, was credited with 17 giveaways in Game 6 as the Penguins fed off their pressure and received a goal and an assist each from captain Sidney Crosby and Nick Bonino. Pittsburgh will try to reach the finals for the first time since winning the Stanley Cup in 2008-09, when it won two Game 7s along the way. “You go through different experiences, and realize how hard it is to get these kinds of opportunities,” Crosby said. “As a group, we’ve been through a lot, and we want to make the most of it.”

TV: 8 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network, CBC, TVAS

ABOUT THE LIGHTNING: Defenseman Victor Hedman, along with forwards Tyler Johnson and Nikita Kucherov, had a combined minus-11 rating in Game 6 as three of Tampa Bay’s top players typified an uncharacteristic defensive effort. “We had some breakdowns,” Cooper told reporters. “If we’re going to advance, playing defense is going to have to be our mandate.” Kucherov leads the team with 11 goals and 19 points while the 6-foot-7 Boyle, who scored twice Tuesday to give him a career-high five tallies in the playoffs, is slated to play his 100th postseason game on Thursday.

ABOUT THE PENGUINS: Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan went back to Matt Murray in net Tuesday and the rookie rewarded him with 28 saves for his 10th victory of the playoffs. “He has a demeanor back there, a calming effect on the group in front of him,” Sullivan told reporters of Murray, who turned 22 on Wednesday. “I think his performance speaks for itself. He’s been thrown into a tough situation, and he’s handled it extremely well.” Phil Kessel notched his sixth goal in seven games Tuesday and leads the team with 18 points in the postseason – three better than Crosby and Bonino.


1. The Penguins are 2-7 at home in Game 7s in their history, including a 1-0 defeat in the final contest of the first round against the Lightning in 2011.

2. Tampa Bay captain C Steven Stamkos (blood clot) and G Ben Bishop (left leg) are not expected to return for the final game of the series.

3. Pittsburgh D Kris Letang rebounded from a minus-4 rating in Game 5 to score a goal and share the team lead with four shots on Tuesday.

PREDICTION: Penguins 4, Lightning 1
Stats and Records
Team Comparison
  W/L Strk Home Away Day Night Div
Tampa Bay 57-35-3-3 L1 31-16-1-2 26-19-2-1 9-1-0-0 48-34-3-3 19-13-1-2
Pittsburgh 59-30-6-4 W1 32-13-2-3 27-17-4-1 11-6-0-0 48-24-6-4 27-11-3-0
Last Meeting
Tampa Bay Pittsburgh
Date Away Home Shots Saves PP Shots Saves PP
5/24/16 PIT 5 TB 2 30 29 0-1 34 28 1-3
Player Stats
Previous Matchup
Total Points Player  
Tampa Bay B. Boyle 2
Pittsburgh N. Bonino 2
Goals Player  
Tampa Bay B. Boyle 2
Pittsburgh N. Bonino 1
Assists Player  
Tampa Bay J. Drouin 1
Pittsburgh N. Bonino 1
Saves Player  
Tampa Bay A. Vasilevskiy 29
Pittsburgh M. Murray 28
Total Points Player  
Tampa Bay N. Kucherov 88
Pittsburgh S. Crosby 104
Goals Player  
Tampa Bay N. Kucherov 44
Pittsburgh S. Crosby 44
Assists Player  
Tampa Bay V. Hedman 48
Pittsburgh K. Letang 62
Saves Player  
Tampa Bay B. Bishop 1901
Pittsburgh M. Fleury 1611
Quickchart Matchup
Tampa Bay Off vs  Pittsburgh Def
2.77 GF
2.43 GA
29.2 Shots
29.8 Shots
53 PP
49 PK
Pittsburgh Off vs  Tampa Bay Def
3 GF
2.41 GA
33.5 Shots
29.5 Shots
63 PP
50 PK