It all comes down to this.
- Washington at Tampa Bay
- NHL: Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals
- 8 p.m., Amalie Arena
After a month and a half of grind-it-out hockey, the Tampa Bay Lightning's season comes down to two words: Game Seven.
As in Game Seven of the Eastern Conference Finals.
The Lightning host the Washington Capitals Wednesday at 8 p.m. at Amalie Arena. The winner earns a berth in the Stanley Cup Final opposite the first-year Vegas Golden Knights.
Tampa Bay is playing Game 7 in the conference final for the third time in four years. It beat the New York Rangers on the road to advance to the 2015 Cup Final, but fell short the following year against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
“Experience is always a good thing, but it’s nothing I’m going to sit and lean on,” said Tampa Bay defenseman Anton Stralman, who is 7-1 in Game 7s during his career. “It’s about doing your job at the highest level you possibly can.”
Washington forced Wednesday’s winner-take-all matchup with a dominating 3-0 victory in Game 6.
In a series where home ice has not been a clear advantage, the Lightning are hoping it provides an edge in Game 7.
Washington won Games 1 and 2 in Tampa, then dropped the next two at home. The Capitals are 7-2 on the road this postseason.
“When you get this deep into a series, everyone knows each other by heart. Now it really comes down to a little bit of will. You have to will yourself for this moment,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said.
“I do like the fact there will be 19,000 people helping us, to will us to victory. I want the guys to enjoy the game. It will be a phenomenal experience. You just have to remember, don’t let the game get bigger than it really is. Go out there, execute, leave everything out there and we’ll see what happens.”
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.