Cooper: Lightning aren’t treating Game 6 like any other game

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It’s understandable that hockey players and coaches sometimes choose to sound like drones, especially this time of year, spouting phrases like “one game at a time.”

Maybe Lightning head coach Jon Cooper is preaching such a day-by-day approach to his team, but he’s not acting like Game 6 against the New York Rangers – with a chance to advance to the 2015 Stanley Cup Final – is just your run-of-the-mill contest. He acknowledged how big tonight’s contest is, as NHL.com reports.

“I don’t think you can treat this like any other game,” Cooper said. “There are only four teams left, and we put ourselves in a position to advance. Now we have to raise the bar a little bit higher; we know the Rangers are going to, so we have to match that. But I think our confidence level is where we know we can do that.”

Tampa Bay avoided what could have been an arduous Game 7 against the Montreal Canadiens by playing what seemed like picture-perfect defense. Steven Stamkos believed that he saw glimpses of that shutdown mentality from the Bolts in Game 5.

There’s plenty of incentive for Tampa Bay to win tonight, beyond the most obvious goal of advancing.

The Chicago Blackhawks and Anaheim Ducks are really engaging in a physical, emotional series. It’s plausible – though obviously not guaranteed – that those two teams could go the distance. If the Bolts could win tonight, they’d get a little extra rest.

More than that, few teams probably want to contend with Henrik Lundqvist and the Rangers in a Game 7 situation, especially considering how dominant they’ve been in those scenarios at Madison Square Garden.

All things considered, it’s easy to see why Cooper is preaching urgency.

Conversely, which factors should Alain Vigneault be stressing? The video below breaks down what the Rangers need to do to be successful.

Related: Lightning hope to avoid a “letdown.”

PHT Morning Skate: Barber cuts portrait of Lundqvist into fan’s hair

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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Earlier this month a New York Rangers fan had a portrait of Chris Kreider shaved into his head. Ahead of Game 5 barber Joe Barajas was at it again this time shaving a portrait of goaltender Henrik Lundqvist into a fan’s head. (Puck Daddy)

The Anaheim Ducks’ three-goals in 37-seconds on Saturday night presented an opportunity for Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville to reflect on his playing days. Quenneville was a part of the 1979 Toronto Maple Leafs, which scored three times in a 23-second span. (Toronto Sun)

Entourage star Kevin Dillon took in Game 5 of the Lightning-Rangers series on Sunday night at MSG. (Sportsnet)

Don Cherry believes the Leafs should strip Dion Phaneuf of the captaincy. (Sportsnet)

Former NHLer Glen Murray developing reputation for developing talent. (The Boston Globe)

A Rangers fan had quite the jersey foul Sunday night at MSG. (Sporting News)

The NHL on NBC crew breaks down the keys to Ben Bishop’s success in Game 5:

Surging Stamkos: Lightning put Rangers on the brink

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Make no mistake about it: Steven Stamkos is red-hot, and he’s taking his Tampa Bay Lightning with him. The Bolts blanked the New York Rangers 2-0 in Game 5 to grab a 3-2 series lead on Sunday.

Stamkos assisted on Valtteri Filppula’s 1-0 goal and then took advantage of some great passing from “The Triplets” to score a tap-in 2-0 tally on the power play. Those two goals came within a five-minute stretch late in the second period that really changed the complexion of a tight contest.

There were mistakes on both sides as Matt Carle and Keith Yandle coughed up some costly turnovers (among others). Ultimately, it seemed like the Lightning beat the Rangers at “their own game,” so to speak. Victor Hedman and Anton Stralman were brilliant at times in their own end, earning the praise they received in many circles.

Henrik Lundqvist was actually quite sharp, as his high-difficulty glove save on Stamkos might have ranked a little higher on highlight reels if the rest of the contest went better for the Rangers.

Instead, Ben Bishop enjoyed a nice rebound game in the form of a relatively easy shutout. It’s also probably accurate to say that Tampa Bay’s special teams scored a serious win over New York’s power play and penalty kill units.

Fans at Madison Square Garden even lightly booed the Blueshirts heading into the second intermission:

The big story is probably the continued rise of Stamkos. He tied a Lightning playoff record by scoring a goal in his fourth consecutive game and now has seven points in that four-game span. His confidence has been as obvious as his point-scoring, too, really.

Bishop managed to steal some spotlight in the third period, although the Lightning defense showed they can play that lock-it-down style of defense when they need to. (A wide-open style might be their preference, but you need to show that you can switch gears, too.)

Rangers fans have a right to feel down. New York carried the play for significant stretches, yet they find themselves on the brink of elimination once again.

It’s no secret that Alain Vigneault’s bunch tends to ratchet up its efforts a few notches with everything on the line, either. They fought back from 3-1 series deficits both in this postseason and their lengthy 2014 run.

They’ll need to dig deep yet again, but at least they know – from experience – that they can do it.

Meanwhile, you can’t begrudge Lightning fans if they’re excited about being one win away from the big time:

Video: Lundqvist snares Stamkos’ scary shot

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In hockey, you don’t always get to see many star vs. star moments, but that’s often what makes them so special.

As their conference final series has gone along, we’ve seen a number of moments where Tampa Bay Lightning star Steven Stamkos challenged New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist. Lundqvist’s glove has come through a few times, but his stop in the second period of Game 5 was a true masterpiece:

How many goalies could stare down Stamkos in such a one-on-one situation and come out on top? Goodness.

WATCH LIVE: Lightning at Rangers, Game 5 of Eastern Conference Final

Heading into Game 4, people were wondering if New York Rangers star Henrik Lundqvist would burst out of his slump. Now the focus shifts to the other net, as Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Ben Bishop hopes for a better Game 5.

The series shifts back to Madison Square Garden after two action-packed games in Tampa, and the winner will take a crucial 3-2 series lead. You can watch the action on NBCSN and stream it via NBC Sports Live Extra:

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE