Defenceman Ryan McDonagh says the Tampa Bay Lightning have developed a next-man up attitude as they seek to three-peat as Stanley Cup Champions.
The Lightning, 21/4 to win the Stanley Cup for a third straight season lead the Florida Panthers 1-0 in the Eastern Conference Second Round thanks to a 4-1 victory on Tuesday without influential forward Brayden Point. They are 5/7 to win the series.
26-year-old Point was injured in the first period of Tampa Bay’s Game 7 victory in Round One over the Toronto Maple Leafs, remaining on the bench in support of his teammates.
Point has led the playoffs for goals in each of the past two seasons (14 in 23 games in each campaign), but with him missing the Lightning have enjoyed contributions from several depth forwards.
Veterans Corey Perry and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare each scored against the Panthers, and the Lightning progressed past the Leafs in Game 7 thanks to two goals from Nick Paul, acquired ahead of the trade deadline.
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On the back-end, 32-year-old McDonagh has also played his part, leading the playoffs in blocked shots (25).
McDonagh has moved up to 387 career blocked shots in the playoffs, passing Dan Girardi for the most all-time in NHL post-season history.
Game two of the series is in Florida on Thursday.
McDonagh said to the media: "There's going to be times throughout any series where guys are out for a bit with injuries and taking nicks and bumps.
"We're used to it now at this point. Unfortunately, you've got to roll with it and don't change our game plan because of who's out there. So, it's a next-man-up mentality and go out there and do our jobs."
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