The Tampa Bay Lightning have been here before.
Trailing 3-2 in their first-round series to the Detroit Red Wings, the Lightning quickly put a 4-0 loss behind them by pulling off a Game 6 road win and, two nights later, a Game 7 shutout win at home. They also handed the New York Rangers their first ever Game 7 loss at Madison Square Garden, where they'd previously been 7-0, in the Eastern Conference Final with yet another impressive shutout victory.
So this isn't anything new to the Lightning.
The only difference is, this is the Stanley Cup Final, a place they haven't been since 2004 and somewhere the Blackhawks have been three times in the last six years. But considering they've done it this postseason already, the Lightning believe there's no reason they can't overcome a series deficit while facing elimination again.
"We've worked way too hard to not leave everything on the ice in this next game," Lightning captain Steven Stamkos said. "We proved it all along that we can bounce back. We've been in this exact same situation before. You just draw on that experience."
A big reason they were able to complete those series wins was because of the emergence of the "Triplets" line featuring Ondrej Palat, Tyler Johnson, and Nikita Kucherov. But with Kucherov's — who exited Saturday's contest early after colliding into the post — status for Game 6 unknown, the Lightning need their captain now more than ever, and Stamkos, who has yet to score in the Stanley Cup Final, acknowledged that.
"That's why you need the depth at this time of the year," he said. "These are probably two of the deepest teams in the league. You have to rely on all players in these situations, which we have, and they have as well. But in the big moments, you want your guys to step up. I definitely want to be a guy that can step up tomorrow night and help our team win, whether it's on the score sheet or not.
"Our focus is getting a win. Like I said, there's really no other option for our group right now."
While the Blackhawks — aiming to claim the Stanley Cup on home ice for the first time since 1938 — are trying not to look too far ahead, the Lightning are trying not to look at how far they've come yet. Their postseason journey started 61 days ago — "The Detroit series seems like last season," said Lightning head coach Jon Cooper — and they're not ready for it to end.
"It's been a phenomenal ride that is not over," Cooper said. "We have to embrace this and have fun with this. I think that's part of the reason why we're still here. But the one thing about this group that I've learned is when it's time to go to work, these guys punch the clock and step on the ice. It's been a pleasure and an honor to coach these guys, to the point where I basically almost stand there. They almost kind of run themselves.
"To be this close, gosh, it would be a shame if we couldn't try to pull this one off."
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If they do, it'll start Monday night in Chicago, which may not be the worst thing.
The Lightning have proved to be much better on the road (8-4) than at home (6-7) this postseason — perhaps thriving on the role of being underdogs — and found a way to win at the United Center in Game 3. That alone should instill hope that it can be done a second time.
"No excuses for our group," Stamkos said. "We're here. We've given ourselves a chance. There's two games scheduled left in the season. We can be part of that. That's the mentality we've had. We've played extremely well on the road. We've won in this building before. We're going to be a confident group heading in."