TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The Lightning are facing their first elimination game of this postseason, with an uphill battle of having to win three-straight games to advance to the next round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. But in this win-or-go-home scenario, this group of competitors is dialed-in for the challenge.
“When your back’s against the wall yeah, it’s either fight or flight,” said Lightning captain Steven Stamkos. “It’s either you say it’s going to be too hard to come back and you don’t give your best effort or you go out there and you lay it all out on the line and that’s what I expect this group’s going to do.”
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“It’s a do or die game for us,” said Lightning forward Anthony Cirelli. “Obviously this group knows what we’re capable of and we’ve been together for a long time so I expect for us to go out there and compete hard and be really good. Like I said, it’s do or die so we’re going to leave it all out there and take it one game at a time. We’ve got to win three but it starts with one, so I think our mindset is just go out there and stick to our game plan and work hard and be ready to go.”
Helping the Bolts recover physically and also mentally after back-to-back overtime games, was an extra day before game five.
“When you’re in the playoffs, when you win a game you want to play the next day because you want to keep the momentum,” Stamkos said. “You lose a game, it’s not always a bad thing to get some extra rest — especially when some guys are banged-up.”
Head Coach Jon Cooper said Tuesday he thought the additional day of rest would benefit his players, helping them get in a more positive mindset. On Wednesday, he said he was pleased with the energy they brought to the ice for practice.
“Actually I liked everything about today,” Cooper said. “The guys had pop. They had jump in their step. I think that day off did us well. Like I said, we’re not going to win a series in our next game. We’ve just got to win one game and we’ve done that ample times this year. But the attitude, and I think the guys came in here a little refreshed, feeling pretty good so it was a good day today.”