TAMPA, Fla. — Lightning captain Steven Stamkos said his team stepped up and had its best game of the playoffs, by far.
"That's what experienced teams do in those situations. Step up when it's time to step up," Stamkos said.
"Watched some video, we changed things around," he said after the Bolts' 4-0 win over Florida. "And it was almost a clinical game in terms of executing the game plan, and it was fun to be a part of."
Tampa Bay head coach Jon Cooper gave 100% of the credit to his players for closing out the series 4-2 on home ice.
"It was 60 minutes of sheer will and compete. To win in this league, that’s what you need," Cooper said. "When you make the playoffs, you need it from everybody, and the players gave it."
Lightning left wing Pat Maroon scored his first goal of this postseason to put the Lightning up 1-0 in the first period. He won the Stanley Cup with St. Louis in 2019 and Tampa Bay last season. He says he relishes his role as a leader on this team.
"I try to do the best I can to keep the guys motivated, keep ‘em light, keep ‘em laughing in the room," Maroon joked after someone suggested he use the nickname 'Big Game Pat.' "It’s been fun to watch our team grow the last two years."
Goaltender Andre Vasilevskiy stopped 29 shots to earn the shutout. He watched former Bolts goalie Ben Bishop earn playoff shutouts, and Vasilevskiy said he gets to live his dream of doing the same thing.
"I think my rookie year he had two shutouts in game sevens. And I was like 'Maybe one day I’ll be like him,'" Andre said as he laughed with Stamkos during the postgame news conference. "Great effort by our team, and I want to thank the team for that shutout."
The Lightning advance to the second round of the playoffs for the eighth time in franchise history. They'll meet the winner of Carolina and Nashville.
Carolina leads that best-of-seven match-up 3-2. Game six is tonight at 9:30 p.m. in Nashville.