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Lightning look to close out Penguins and advance to Finals

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For the Lightning, it’s about Game Six.

For the Lightning, it’s always been about Game Six.

Throughout the history of the franchise, a lot of series seem to wind up at Game Six, which has been the home to triumphs and heartache for the Lightning. Game Sixes have been about overtime, and about Marty St. Louis, and about Ben Bishop.

And now, here we go again. The Tampa Bay Lightning has a chance to advance to their second straight Stanley Cup Finals if they can beat the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Finals.

Overall, the Lighting is 6-5 in Game Sixes in the playoffs.

The Bolts lost their first-ever playoff series in Game Six, losing a 6-1 decision to the Philadelphia Flyers in 1995. They won their first series, beating Washington 2-1 in triple overtime on a goal by Martin St. Louis.

In their Stanley Cup year, they were forced to a seventh game by Philadelphia in an overtime loss in Game Six, only to win in Game Seven. The next series, they won their most crucial game of the Stanley Cup Finals, beating Calgary 3-2 on a goal by St. Louis. Earlier in that game, the Flames swore they scored the winning goal, but there were no replays to show the puck over the line.

In 2007, they lost in Game Six to New Jersey, 3-2.

In 2011, they beat Pittsburgh 4-2 and forced a seventh game, which they won. They lost a 1-0 game to Boston in Game Six.

Last year, the Bolts beat Detroit to force Game Seven (a win), closed out Montreal, lost to the Rangers (but won Game Seven) and were closed out by Chicago.

And now this.

Bolts’ coach Jon Cooper says his team relaxed a year ago against the Rangers, who won Game Six easily to force the seventh game.

“If there’s one thing we have to have learned from last year is what happened in Game 6 in the Rangers series,” Cooper said. “You can’t sit here and dictate or guarantee what the result’s going to be, but our mindset going into the game has got to be a heck of a lot different, and our group is well aware of that.

“I look back at last year, and we beat Detroit in Game 6, and then we came back, and a little bit on our heels in Game 7, and we were fortunate to pull it out. As we got a little bit more confidence in the series and we got to play the Rangers, I think we won such a big game in Game 5, I think the natural inclination was, oh, we’re going home. We’re going to close this out, especially the way we won Game 5, and they blew us out.”

Gary Shelton is one of the most recognized and honored sportswriters in the history of the state. He has won the APSE's national columnist of the year twice and finished in the top 10 eight times. He was named the Florida Sportswriter of the Year six times. Gary joined SaintPetersBlog in the spring, helping to bring a sports presence to the website. Over his time in sports writing, Gary has covered 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics, Final Fours, Masters, Wimbledons and college national championships. He was there when the Bucs won a Super Bowl, when the Lightning won a Stanley Cup and when the Rays went to a World Series. He has seen Florida, FSU and Miami all win national championships, and he covered Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Don Shula along the way. He and his wife Janet have four children: Eric, Kevin, K.C. and Tori. To contact, visit

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