In the biggest game of his professional career, with the Tampa Bay Lightning facing the potential end of a magical season, Teddy Purcell announced his intentions right from the start.
Tampa Bay's surging winger registered a pair of goals for the second time within a three-game span Wednesday night as the Lightning fought off elimination with a 5-4 win against Boston, forcing a Game 7 in the Eastern Conference finals.
"In the playoffs, it takes everyone to contribute, so this one feels real good,'' said Purcell, who scored only 36 seconds into Game 6. "Still, we haven't accomplished anything yet. We're going up to Boston with everything on the line.''
Purcell, who also scored twice in Game 4, put the Lightning ahead for good at 3-2 with a power-play goal at 13:55 of the second period, beating Tim Thomas from the left faceoff circle off a nice feed from Steve Downie.
With five scores overall, Purcell is tied with Boston's David Krejci for the goal lead in a riveting series that will be decided Friday evening at TD Garden.
"Teddy's been playing great,'' said Lightning center Vinny Lecavalier, Purcell's linemate for much of the season. "He's got a hot stick. He's s smart player, fun to play with. He's been building his confidence as the year goes on and now he's playing phenomenal hockey. He's been one of our best players for sure in this series.''
Just after Krejci was kicked out of the faceoff circle to the left of Thomas, Purcell shifted his position, moving to the top of the circle and wristing a shot past a startled Thomas for a quick 1-0 advantage as Lecavalier won the draw cleanly against Chris Kelly.
"Vinny did a real good job of getting the puck back to me,'' said Purcell, who scored 17 goals during the regular season. "I shot it through a screen and lucky enough, it went in.''
Despite some tense final moments, Tampa Bay improved to 4-0 when facing elimination in this postseason as the Lightning begin preparations for their 100th game of the year.
"It's been our motto all season — resilience and work ethic,'' said Purcell, obtained 15 months ago in a trade with the Kings. "When we work hard around the crease and create traffic, that's when we have success against Tim Thomas. When we don't, he out-competes us and comes out on top.''
A sellout crowd roared throughout the evening, inspiring the Lightning as they scored five goals for the fourth time in six games against Thomas.
"Our fans were amazing,'' Purcell said. "I said after Saturday's game that I've never heard the crowd louder. Well, they outdid themselves tonight.''