Captain Steven Stamkos said the Tampa Bay Lightning have a contagious winning attitude after their bid to three-peat as Stanley Cup champions remained alive with a 2-1 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference first round.
The Lightning, 13/2 to go all the way for a third season in a row, had two goals from Nick Paul and 30 saves from netminder Andrei Vasilevskiy to edge past the Maple Leafs in Toronto on Saturday.
The Lightning are now 7-3 all-time in Game 7's and 4-2 during the tenure of head coach Jon Cooper.
Coming into the play-offs as the third seed from the Atlantic Division (51-23-8), the Lightning will next face the first-placed Florida Panthers (58-18-6) in Round Two.
Tampa played most of Game 7 against the Leafs without their top-scorer in each of the past two championship play-off campaigns, Brayden Point, who fell awkwardly into the boards after just 17 minutes of the first period.
A devastated Point remained on the bench for the entirety of the game in support of his team-mates, an act started by Stamkos when he was limited to 2.48 of ice time in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final in 2020 against the Dallas Stars.
Stamkos reflected to the media: “It could have been a night where we said, 'Oh Point is done, it is going to be one of those nights', but we fell back on the standard that has been set for this group.
"That's just to do whatever it takes to win. It doesn't matter who does it when, it's just win and it's certainly a contagious feeling and attitude."
The 32-year-old is participating in his ninth play-off campaign with Tampa Bay. He had four points (two goals, two assists) in the series against the Leafs.