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Eastern Conference

Lightning’s Steven Stamkos Driven To Finish Job Against Capitals

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Tampa Bay Lightning superstar Steven Stamkos is a man on a mission to reach the elusive Stanley Cup that has evaded his grasp during his career

“You have to look at it like: ‘Is this the last opportunity?’ Because opportunities like this are so few and far between,” Stamkos said (h/t NHL.com).

“With some of the injuries I’ve had, you have a new perspective on your career as an individual and you have a new perspective of when you get the opportunity to play on a team of this caliber. You just never know. You need so many things to go your way in the playoffs when you go on a run to get where you are now.”

The Lightning are one victory from the Stanley Cup Final and currently lead their best of 7 series against the Washington Capitals 3-2 as the teams head into Game 6 at Capital One Arena in Washington on Monday.

The last time Stamkos as the Lightning reached the Stanley Cup Final was back in 2015 when they lost to the Chicago Blackhawks in 6 games and Stamkos is still haunted by what could have been had he scored on a first-period breakaway instead of seeing his shot clank off the goal post.

“I still remember the sound,” Stankos said. “I don’t forget anything.”

“He’s been through tough times before,” Chris Stamkos, Steven’s dad, said of his son. “He knows what it takes.”

“You see the core, you see the ability that we have and you see how special it can be,” Stamkos said. “You want to be part of that. I saw that here. I knew there was a great window here.

“And now we’re on our way right now.”

Stamkos is only 28, so it’s not crazy to think he will have another shot, or more, during his career, but his teammates also know that it’s not crazy to think this may be his last shot as well.

“Not at all,” Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman said. “He’s absolutely right. Like he said, we’ve been close but we’ve also missed the playoffs. These opportunities don’t come around every year. For us, we have to approach every game like our life depends on it.”

“Mats Sundin. Markus Naslund. The Sedin twins. Just to name a few guys,” Hedman said. “They’ve been close but they haven’t reached all the way.

“We’re so fortunate to be one game away to play for the Stanley Cup again. For us to reach that goal, we have to play our best hockey from here on in.”

“Like I said, you never know if it’s your last opportunity,” Stamkos said. “And if it is, you want to take advantage of it.

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Eastern Conference

Devils’ Jesper Bratt Out 2-3 Weeks

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New Jersey Devils forward Jesper Bratt will be out 2-3 weeks with a broken jaw.

Bratt, 20, was injured Thursday when he was hit in the face by a puck that was shot from the point and deflected off the crossbar.

“It was just a freak accident after practice; he was in the corner and there was a shot that went to the net and it hit the crossbar and inadvertently hit him,” Devils head coach John Hynes said (h/t NHL.com). “He has a fracture and no surgery is needed, so that’s good news. He should be able to continue his physical activity over the course of that time and he’ll be back ready to go when that time comes.”

“It stinks because he’s had a great training camp,” Devils forward Travis Zajac said. “He was playing better than how he started last year, but he’ll get a chance to come back even stronger. It’s one of those things as a young guy you just have to take in stride, not let it bother you, and just make sure you’re prepared to contribute when you do come back.”

“I met up with him right away after practice Thursday, and you feel so bad for him,” New Jersey forward Marcus Johansson stated. “This is once-in-a-lifetime thing to play an NHL game in Sweden and having family and friends here. He was playing really well, too, and working hard all summer.

“It’s not a fun situation and he’s not happy right now, but he’s a young kid and he has a lot of hockey ahead of him so you don’t want to risk anything by coming back too soon.”

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Eastern Conference

Panthers’ Derek MacKenzie Retiring at End of Season

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Florida Panthers forward Derek MacKenzi will be calling it a career at the end of the 2018-2019 season, according to The Athletic’s George Richards.

MacKenzie, 37, is entering his 18th season and 5th with Florida and stated that he would like to stay involved with the organization when his retirement becomes official.

 

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Eastern Conference

Islanders Name Anders Lee Captain

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The New York Islanders have officially named Anders Lee team captain, who will don the “C” after the departure of former team captain John Tavares during free agency, per an official team announcement.

Lee, 28, is coming off a career year which saw him collect 40 goals.

Josh Bailey, Cal Clutterbuck, and Andrew Ladd will serve as the team’s alternate captains.

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