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Tuesday, Jun 19, 2018
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History has been kind to Lightning in Game 7s

WASHINGTON — There's nothing more delicious in sports than Game 7.
Unless your team is playing in it. Then there's nothing more nerve-racking.
Most sports fans watch a big game with a nice cold drink. But if your team is playing in a Game 7, the beverage of choice might be Pepto-Bismol.

For Tampa Bay, Game 7s have all been close. Not a blowout among them. But they've gone pretty well, too.

The Lightning and Rays have combined to play eight Game 7s in their history, and the Tampa Bay teams have won six of them. But, man, they were nail-biters.

They were tight. They were tense. They were thrilling.

The Lightning's Stanley Cup-winning run in 2003-04 featured two Game 7s. It beat the Flyers 2-1 in the Eastern Conference final. Then it won the Cup as Ruslan Fedotenko scored twice and goalie Nikolai Khabibulin built the Bulin Wall, especially in the final seconds, in a 2-1 victory.

The Rays were next up in a Game 7. In arguably the greatest game in Rays history, the Rays defeated the Red Sox 3-1 to win the 2008 American League Championship Series. The Rays survived as rookie David Price came out of the bullpen to get out of a bases-loaded jam in the eighth inning, then pitched a scoreless ninth to send the Rays to their first and only World Series.

Then came a string of Lightning Game 7s.

Goalie Dwayne Roloson recorded a shutout and Sean Bergenheim scored the lone goal as the Lighting beat the Penguins 1-0 in Pittsburgh in a 2011 first-round series. Two rounds later, in the Eastern Conference final, the Lightning lost a 1-0 game, this time to goalie Tim Thomas and the Bruins.

The Lightning's Cup run in 2015 featured two intense Game 7s. In the first round, Braydon Coburn, who rarely scores, scored a third-period goal to break a scoreless tie with the Red Wings. Anton Stralman added an empty-netter for a 2-0 victory.

Two rounds later, again in the East final, Lightning goalie Ben Bishop pitched a shutout in Madison Square Garden as the Lightning advanced to its second Stanley Cup final with a 2-0 victory over the Rangers.

The last Game 7 Tampa Bay has played was in the 2016 Eastern final — a 2-1 loss at Pittsburgh to the eventual Stanley Cup-champion Penguins.

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