The Tampa Bay Lightning have been up against the wall before and after losing Game Five to the Boston Bruins and going down 3-2, they find themselves there again.
In order to advance to their first Finals in seven years, they must stage another improbable comeback. They've already done it once, in the first round against the Pittsburgh Penguins when they were down 3-1.
Luckily for Tampa, the Eastern Conference Finals has been a back-and-forth battle with no team holding the edge for too long. The Lightning took Game One, the Bruins won Games Two and Three, the Lightning stormed back from a 3-0 deficit to win Game Four and on the back of a 33-save performance from Tim Thomas, the Bruins took Game Five.
Now, the Lightning head home and hope to save their season.
In Game Five, the Lightning out-shot the Bruins 34-20. They were quicker to the puck for the majority of the game. The Bruins, on the other hand, at times look disorganized and disheveled, failing to convert on multiple power play opportunities.
But none of it mattered because of Thomas, the seemingly impenetrable Bruins goalie. He made miraculous save after save in leading the Bruins to victory.
The Lightning, which possess the leading scoring attack in the postseason with 54 goals and 92 assists, must find a way to get the puck past Thomas. They've done it before, scoring five goals each in games one and four.
Getting goals means top Tampa attackers Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis will have to step it up. The two were Tampa's leading point scorers during the regular season but have only managed four points in five games against the Bruins.
A lot of Tampa's goal-scoring prowess will depend on whether left winger Sean Bergenheim plays. Bergenheim, who leads the Lightning in postseason scoring, was injured during the first period of Game Five, and did not return to action. He is listed as a game-time decision.
In net, the Lightning are calling on 41-year old Dwayne Roloson to protect the goal and fend off Bruins attackers Patrice Bergeron, Nathan Horton and Michael Ryder. The goalie has been inconsistent in the playoffs and was benched in Game Five in favor of backup Mike Smith. If he lets up a few goals early, don't be surprised if Tampa coach Guy Boucher pulls him.
Lastly, the Lightning needs to take advantage of the power play. The team has failed to score a single power play goal in its last three games after having one of the most potent PP attacks during the first two rounds and regular season.
Check Back for Part 2, where we preview the game from the Bruins' side.