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NHL - US Sports: Lightning ready to make sacrifices

Captain Steven Stamkos says the Tampa Bay Lightning will do whatever it takes to make history and three-peat as Stanley Cup champions.

The Lightning, 4/1 to be crowned Stanley Cup Champions for a third season in a row, took a 2-0 series lead in their Eastern Conference Second Round clash with Florida Panthers on Thursday, scoring the game-winner with 3.8 seconds remaining.

Tampa Bay are 10/39 to progress past the Panthers, who won the Presidents' Trophy as the team with the best record in the NHL regular season.

Bodies on the line

A key to the Lightning's success against the league's top goal-scorers in the regular season has been their commitment to shot blocking and strong penalty-killing efforts. Tampa blocked 24 shots in Game 2, and blanked the Panthers on four powerplay chances.

Florida is 0-for-7 in the series and 0-for-25 in their nine playoff games so far. The Lightning on the other hand went 1-for-3 in Game 2 after going 3-for-6 in the opening game of the series.

Stamkos, forward Brandon Hagel and defenseman Erik Cernak each left for the locker room during Game 2 after blocking a shot but returned to the Lightning bench later in the game.

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The 32-year-old Stamkos has six points (two goals, four assists) in nine post-season games, taking his career total to 78 points (34 goals, 44 assists) in 103 playoffs games.

Game 3 of the series is in Tampa Bay on Saturday and Stamkos has warned that there will be no let up from the two-time defending champions.

No let-up from Lightning

Stamkos said to the media: "That's just the sacrifice at this time of the year. That's just the expectation of our group, and everyone's doing it no matter the situation in the game.

"It's contagious. Guys are stepping up, whether it's an amazing penalty kill at the end, blocked shots, taking a hit to make a play. Guys are willing to do that and it's a great trait to have as a team."

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