TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – After winning three games straight in their series with the New York Rangers, the Tampa Bay Lightning have an opportunity to clinch the Eastern Conference title on home ice Saturday night.

But an elimination game always means an air of desperation for the team facing elimination, as the Rangers will be fighting to keep their season alive. The Lightning know it’ll be a battle.

“We expect their best game of the playoffs but we expect ourselves to be at that level too,” said Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman. “We’ve been successful when we’ve had the opportunity to eliminate teams and now we have the chance again going back home but we’re not going to hang our hat that we’re going home. We’ve got to execute like we have in the previous games. We really expect them to have their best game. That’s the bottom line. Their back’s against the wall and we expect their best game, but we’ve got to expect ourselves to have that desperation level as well. It’s going to be an exciting time. We’re excited to play in front of our fans obviously but at the end of the day it’s a hockey game and same two teams going at it. We expect ourselves to have a great game.”

If any team has proven they can’t be counted out, though, it’s the Rangers, who have found themselves trailing 3-2 in each of their previous two series. In the first round, they came back to beat the Pittsburgh Penguins in seven games and did the same thing against the Carolina Panthers in the second round — both times winning back-to-back games to advance.

“I expect their best game,” said Lightning Head Coach Jon Cooper. “With the guy leading the charge behind the bench — (Gerard Gallant) is a hell of a coach. He’ll have them going. The New York Rangers are a better team today than they were opening night of the playoffs. They’ve gotten better as a group and so I would expect nothing less than an outstanding effort from them. And saying that ‘just because we’re going home,’ it would be naïve for us to think that now we’re going back here we’re just going to win this game. Not a chance. We’ve been in this position before. We’ve had opportunities to close teams out and we’ve done it for the most part, and there’s times we haven’t. I told you at the beginning. We’re here to win a series. We don’t care when we win it. We just want to win it. And so the next chance to win it now is Saturday night and we’ll be ready.”

The Lightning can relate to the Rangers’ mindset, having had a similar scenario against the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round. The Bolts came back to beat them in seven after trailing 3-2 in the series.

So Tampa Bay has been on both sides of elimination games, and between this postseason and the previous two Stanley Cup Championship runs, they’ve been in nearly every scenario. It’s a battle-tested group that’s confident in how they handle any situation — in a series or a game.

“You prepare for those moments by experience,” said Lightning forward and captain Steven Stamkos. “There’s no other way around it. You go into those situations and everyone talks about, ‘you’re up a goal or tied going into the third — how are you going to execute as a team.’ We’ve learned over the years how to do that. Being comfortable is probably not the right word because it’s so intense that you’re not comfortable. You’re just confident and you understand what goes on — and our group understands it might not be your next shift but it might be three shifts from now that something happens. Just stick with it. That’s what our group has done so well over the past two and a half years is just ride the waves of emotion that go on through a game. It’s cliché to say but they score and there’s no panic. We’re okay. We’ll tie the game up and we’ll find a way and we’ve certainly done that. Now we go up 3-2 but it’s not a time to rest on what we’ve done. It’s ‘let’s go home and finish the job.’ We know how extremely hard it is. These guys have pushed and battled all playoffs. It’s going to be the toughest game yet but our group can certainly rely on our experience.”

Game 6 between the Rangers and Lightning is set for 8 p.m. Saturday at Amalie Arena.