A real charge to them
Lightning had more energy in many areas
TAMPA — The Lightning had much to prove in Game 6 last night.
They were playing for their hockey lives, hoping to force a Game 7 in Boston tomorrow night to keep their playoffs going.
They needed goalie Dwayne Roloson, who sat out Game 5 in favor of backup Mike Smith, to elevate his game. They needed their big guns — Martin St. Louis, Vincent Lecavalier, and Steven Stamkos — to step up. And they needed their special teams to be more effective.
The Lightning got all those things on the way to a 5-4 victory to even the best-of-seven Eastern Conference finals at three games apiece.
St. Louis netted two goals, his second holding up as the winner, and added an assist. Teddy Purcell had a pair of goals. Stamkos had a goal and two assists. And Lecavalier had a pair of assists.
The Lightning’s power play was 3 for 4, and their penalty killing neutralized four of Boston’s five man-advantage opportunities.
Lecavalier said it was a matter of believing they could do it.
“We were skating tonight, we played well as a team,’’ he said. “Even though they were always kind of coming back, we kept on playing and kept on being aggressive and it paid off.
“It was a great game. We never quit. We’re excited. It’s a huge game for us tonight. The crowd was great, and now we have to go in their barn and play the same way we did tonight.’’
The Lightning faced elimination in the opening round against Pittsburgh when they trailed, 3-1, but then roared back to win three straight.
“We have that confidence,’’ said Lecavalier. “And obviously it comes down to one game. We’re going to have to step up our game even more. Special teams played well, and five on five, everybody.’’
St. Louis was a presence throughout Game 6. His winning goal came at 10:15 of the third, coming just 29 seconds after David Krejci had scored to pull the Bruins within 4-3.
“He was skating and he was hungry,’’ said Lecavalier. “Everybody really stepped up their game tonight from our last game and it shows. When we’re skating, we get more opportunities and we play better hockey.’’
The power play, which had been inconsistent, really made the difference.
“We attacked the net a lot more,’’ said Lecavalier. “We were struggling a little bit, pretty much the whole series. We got in their zone as much as we could and we set it up. After that, we got some shots on net.’’
Coach Guy Boucher said it was only a matter of time before their efforts paid off, and he saw more poise in Game 6.
“It’s not an on-and-off switch,’’ said Boucher. “It’s something you build every game, and they got what they deserved. The last two games, one of our power plays had a lot of poise and the other one didn’t. I think today both had a lot more poise and we got the results.’’
Boucher was asked about the number of penalties called, because he had referenced the lopsidedness of other games — when the Lightning were more heavily penalized — when referee Eric Furlatt was working. His comments were not appreciated by Bruins coach Claude Julien, but Boucher said he was just answering a question.
“Power plays are 5-4 for them tonight, and they were 3-0 to start the game and it was 4-1 for them before we got our other power plays,’’ said Boucher. “I don’t know, who got the advantage today? We got less power plays than them.’’
One of the staunchest challenges for the Lightning has been finding a way to get pucks past Bruins goalie Tim Thomas. They did that in Game 6.
“I guess we solved it for tonight,’’ said Boucher. “He said they were going to win for sure, so I’m sure he’s going to come up big in the next game, so we’re expecting that. Today is today but the next day is going to be another story that we have to figure him out.’’
As for his decision to come back with Roloson, who had 16 saves, the result was what they were looking for.
“We won,’’ said Boucher. “That’s what we’re asking. We’re asking him for a chance to win and that’s what we got.’’
Nancy Marrapese-Burrell can be reached at email@example.com.