Tampa Bay captain Steven Stamkos believes the experience his team carries allows it to revel and perform in tight-game scenarios, including Game 5 against New York, when the Lightning scored two late goals to take a 3-2 series lead.
- Steven, [INAUDIBLE] played a really good overall road game. Just what struck you the most about the way you guys executed in a place is hard to win?
STEVEN STAMKOS: We just stayed patient. We knew it was going to be a challenge coming in this rink with the way they were playing, with the atmosphere. We knew it was going to be just a low scoring, grind game, and the team that was just going to keep grinding the most.
I mean, it certainly wasn't pretty at times, but we kept it at 1s. And you never know, that's twice now we've gone in the last couple of shifts and have just continued with the game plan. And when you stick with it long enough, usually you get rewarded. And that's what our group did tonight.
- Back left, standing up.
- Steven, going along. That's a third time that you guys have won a game in the last two minutes. I mean, you guys call yourselves the "Find a Ways" throughout the regular season. So is that kind of the mentality that you guys have had to carry on into the playoffs here?
STEVEN STAMKOS: Yeah, I mean it's just-- it's defend till the end. And you know, we got some guys that can make some plays. And you never know when it's gonna come. I think that's-- you know, that's some experience, certainly.
You can lean on that, that you never know when that moment is gonna be in the game. And don't push for it. Don't, you know, go out of your way to try to make something happen. Let's just stay patient.
And you know, like you mentioned, that's three times now. That's three huge moments in the playoffs where we found a way at the end of the game. So it's just, for the most part, especially when you come into an atmosphere like this and a road mentality, it's just do whatever it takes to win. And guys feel good about their effort tonight. And we got rewarded.
- On the right side, [INAUDIBLE].
- Steven, we've been asking about Ondrej a lot lately, but he ends up with the winner tonight on the deflection. Do you remember last summer thinking, thank God, he didn't get picked in the expansion draft. I know you guys lost a good player there. But a guy like that, especially what he's done for you--
STEVEN STAMKOS: I mean, yeah, that was-- we had so many good players to choose from. I mean, ultimately, they probably couldn't go wrong. But Pally's been a guy that-- like I've talked about and we've all talked about-- is just a warrior mentality out there. He's willing to do anything and he gets rewarded because he plays the game the right way.
And whether it's the hockey gods, or karma, or whatever it is, you do the right things, you know, things are bound to happen. And he goes to the net. I think it hit off his shin pad tonight on Sergy's shot. I mean, it's just-- do the right things. And Pally does those all the time. And another huge goal for us.
- Right side, Dave.
- Steven, you guys allowed nine goals in the first two games, you only four in the last three. What do you think has been the biggest adjustment or reason for that, the past three games have been, you better defensively?
STEVEN STAMKOS: Yeah, I mean, we didn't like our first two games, for sure. Very uncharacteristic plays and just sloppy hockey. I think towards the end of that second game, the third period, we just tried to build off that. That was more our style.
And you know, we got a great goalie in Vasi. We always talk about give up, you know, one or two, that should be it. You know, we should be able to win those games. So you know, we found a recipe here.
Game three it was two goals. Last game, one. Tonight, one. I mean, it's just those are the types of games you have to win come playoff time. And our group is comfortable doing that.
- Back right, standing up.
- Mikhail, what does it mean to you to score such important goals in such an important game?
MIKHAIL SERGACHEV: You know, I haven't scored a lot of goals, but definitely felt great. I don't think I experienced anything like that before, so it's just a really good feeling to help the team win the game.
You know, and it's not it's not like it's a super crazy play. It's just a simple play that we practice all the time. Guys go to the net. D-men shoot the puck, so it's-- as Stammer said, you keep doing that more and more, and you're gonna get rewarded. So guys got rewarded tonight.
- Take a couple more. Back left.
- Mikhail, you guys have been in this situation before, up 3-2 in a series. Now, you're heading back home. How much can experience, maybe, help you in this situation, that you don't look too far ahead and understand there's still a game to be won?
MIKHAIL SERGACHEV: Yeah, we've got a great group of leaders in our team that, you know, make sure that we're staying in the right mindset before the games, you know, after the games, like this one.
And we're-- obviously, they're not looking ahead because they've been in situations like that. And you know, obviously, I've been in situations like that, so we all know what's ahead of us. And it's the toughest game yet. So we're just gonna try to keep playing the same way we're playing.
- On the right side, Tom.
- Mikhail, what was that challenge like there when you lost McDonagh for a big chunk of the third period? You pretty much playing every other shift at that point.
MIKHAIL SERGACHEV: Yeah, I mean, they were pushing hard. And you know, when you play two lefties it's hard, pretty much. You can can't really go too hard because you've got to let your body rest. So it's tough.
And you know, Mac is, obviously, huge. And when he came back, he gave us a huge boost of energy. And I feel like he was one of the reasons we won the game.
- And our last question on the left side here.
- Steven, you talked about the success you've had in the last minutes of games, even in the third period of a lot of games. Is-- where does it come from? Is that a learned behavior over time that guys start feeling comfortable and knowing what they can do in the last minutes of games?
STEVEN STAMKOS: Yeah, for sure, absolutely. I think you just-- you know, you prepare for those moments by experience. And there's no other way around it. I mean, you just go into those situations. And everyone talks about, OK, you're up a goal or you're tied going into the third, you know, how are you going to execute as a team? And you know, we've learned over the years how to do that.
And it's not being, you know, 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, you know, your next shift, but it might be three shifts from now that something happens. Just stick with it.
And that's what our group has done so well over the past 2 and 1/2 years is just-- you know, just ride the waves of emotion that go on through a game. And you know, it's cliché to say, but you know, they score, we're-- there's no panic. We're OK. We'll tie the game up and we'll find a way. And we've certainly done that.
Now, we go up 3-2. It's not a time to rest on what we've done. It's, let's go home and let's finish the job. And we know how extremely hard it is. These guys have pushed and battled all playoffs. And it's gonna be the toughest game yet. But our group certainly can rely on our experience.