Game 7. Enough said, right? Right.
"It feels great. Anytime you're in this situation and you're a little worried to win, it's obviously pretty nice. Bish (Ben Bishop) was unbelievable for us; he weathered the storm early, and we talked in between periods that we had 20 minutes in our home rink to extend our season, and we came out and we played solid. We knew it was going to be a tight game, we just needed to get that one, and it was nice to see it go in." - Steven Stamkos
This may not have been the Lightning's prettiest all-around game but it was good enough to finally get past the Detroit Red Wings and move on to a match-up with the Montreal Canadiens. It's not that the Lightning were bad, as in not-ready-to-play but they weren't great. Detroit dictated play throughout the first two periods, outshooting Tampa Bay in each period and 31-17 for the game. They also had the edge in hits (31-22), attempts blocked (16-8) and giveaways (6-7). But goalie Ben Bishop was outstanding and the Lightning did a terrific job of clearing traffic in front of him and an even better job of clearing out dangerous rebound opportunities. The Lightning also blocked 16 shots to the Red Wings eight.
"This sure does make us feel better about ourselves. We have found a way to make the playoffs, we did find a way to win a round, we did find a way when our backs were against the wall to win three out out of four games down the stretch to win a series." - head coach Jon Cooper
The very beginning of the game was not encouraging for Tampa Bay fans as Detroit got off six unanswered shots in the first 88 seconds. The Lightning also took the game's first penalty, with Alex Killorn picking up two minutes for hooking at 4:37. That power play was negated :28 later when Justin Abdelkader was whistled for interference. The Lightning would go on to be called for four penalties while the Red Wings would be called for five with neither team cashing in on special teams.
The first two periods would end with teams knotted at zero.
At 3:58 of the third, Braydon Coburn finally broke the deadlock, one-timing a pass from Ryan Callahan for the game's first goal and eventual game winner. Killorn picked up the secondary assist, at which point the sellout crowd of 19,204-plus exploded.
"These fans were unbelievable for us all year. We're not surprised from that. We've seen it time and time again. They were unbelievable. That's why we worked as hard as we did to get this opportunity, at least in Round 1, to play so we'd have a Game 7 at home. They came through for us." - Stamkos
For Coburn, it was his third goal in 74 playoff games, his second in a Game 7.
"I think we had a good forecheck, we got in there. (Ryan) Callahan and I believe it was Stammer (Stamkos), they jarred the puck loose, got it behind the net and Cally saw me kind of sneaking down the right side there, and gave me a great pass. I went to one-time it, and it kind of flipped up on me and found it's way into the left-hand corner there." - Coburn
It looked like the Lightning were up 2-0 at 12:36 on a nifty goal by Anton Stralman, but it was waved off due to offsetting interference calls, Riley Sheahan for Detroit and Steven Stamkos for Tampa Bay.
Stralman would end up on the score at 18:42 when his shot from the boards behind the Lightning goal line somehow found its way all the way down and into an empty Red Wing net. Bishop picked up the only assist on the play.
Unquestionably, the key element that kept the Lightning in the game to make those goals matter was the play of Ben Bishop.
"You could just tell. He just had that calming presence in the net. I know a lot of people were questioning him, this being his first playoffs, this being his first Game 7. Well, now it's not. Now he has a shutout in his first Game 7. He's been arguably the best player for us the last couple seasons, so we have a lot of confidence in him and we've got to keep that going." - Stamkos
The Lightning's next opponent is the Montreal Canadiens and that series will begin Friday night in Montreal.
- Tickets for the next round's home games went on sale immediately after the game concluded.
- This was the fifth Game 7 in Lightning franchise history, with their record now standing at 4-1. This was the first of those games to be decided by more than one goal.
- Three of those four wins have come at home (3-0).
- The Lightning have won six of the last seven games they've played when facing elimination.
- This was the first Game 7 the Lightning have played at home since the Stanley Cup Finals against Calgary in 2004.
- Valtteri Filppula leads all Lightning players in Game 7's with seven, six of which were with the Red Wings.
- Tyler Johnson is probably a unanimous choice for series MVP with six goals and an assist, but I don't think anybody would be too upset if someone cast a vote or two for Alex Killorn.
- In the last 10 games between the Lightning and Red Wings, including the regular season, the team that scored first won nine of them.
- Air Force Tech Sergeant Sonya Bryson, who has developed a devoted following for herself singing the National Anthem at Lightning games over the past two seasons, posted this on her Facebook page this afternoon: "Lightning Fans... Come prepared to sing tonight I've been a little under the weather & my voice is not as strong. I need your help. Look for the cue to sing!". When those times came, she hoisted her mic to the crowd, which included fans of our loyal and worthy adversaries, and they responded enthusiastically to fill in those gaps. It was a really nice moment and kudos are due to every single person in the building, regardless of rooting interest.
- The Lightning honored Gayle Sierens as the 45th Lightning Community Hero of the season during the first period of tonight's game. Sierens, who received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, will donate the money to the Judeo Christian Health Clinic and Lifepath Hospice. For nearly four decades, Sierens has been keeping the Tampa Bay community informed as a news anchor on WFLA News Channel 8. She began as a sports reporter in 1977 and grew in to her current role in 1985. In 1987, Sierens made history becoming the first women to ever call play-by-play for a National Football League game. She has since become a local icon and role model for many. Away from the news desk, Sierens has been a staunch supporter multiple local charitable and humanitarian causes. In light of her philanthropic contributions to the community, The Association of Fundraising Professionals created a "Volunteer of the Year Award" in her name.