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Lightning puts up a strong front in advance of Game 7

Alex Killorn #17 of the Tampa Bay Lightning

Alex Killorn #17 of the Tampa Bay Lightning celebrates with his teammates after scoring a goal in the second period against Henrik Lundqvist #30 of the New York Rangers during Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals during the 2015 NHL Stanley Cup playoffs at Amalie Arena on May 20, 2015 in Tampa, Fla. Credit: Getty Images / Mike Carlson

Alex Killorn had a one-liner ready for the first of what will surely be many references to the Rangers' 7-0 franchise record at Madison Square Garden in Game 7.

"I guess that means they're due to lose one, right?" the Lightning forward quipped during a conference call Wednesday.

The Rangers' playoff history with their current core, backed by the indomitable Henrik Lund- qvist, is well known: Six straight wins when a playoff series is tied 3-3, with the Rangers and Lundqvist allowing five goals in those six Game 7 victories.

The Lightning has no such gaudy numbers, but it does have a Game 7 win in the opening round of this postseason, 2-0 over the Red Wings in a game that featured a terrific 31-save performance from Ben Bishop in his first such situation.

That's the same Bishop who was pulled in the third period on Tuesday after the Rangers took a 5-1 lead on their way to a 7-3 Game 6 rout. Lightning coach Jon Cooper gave his team Wednesday off before today's practice in Tampa, with Game 7 looming in New York Friday. The extra day certainly benefited all players on both sides, but perhaps none more than Bishop, the 28-year-old in his first NHL postseason.

"I know we look here and say, well, he gave up five last night. I don't think any of us on this call could sit here and say Ben was the big reason we gave up the five," Cooper said. "He did everything he could to keep the puck out of the net. It was our five guys in front of him that didn't help him out . . . So I think there is a much needed day, probably especially for Ben."

The extra day of rest could cut both ways for Bishop's teammates. Lundqvist's Game 7 aura could sink in a bit stronger with the added day to contemplate, or the Lightning players could focus more on the way they've rebounded from poor losses twice before in this series.

"You're going to look at our team and say we don't care, we haven't been a part of that history, so it doesn't affect us," Cooper said. "All I know is that I guess you look back and it's an impressive feat to see what [the Rangers] have done. But they haven't done it against our group and our team, and as you said, we've got a pretty young, confident group. When they've been pushed against the wall, they've found an unbelievable way to push back, and we're looking for that again on Friday."


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