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NHL Playoff Scoreboard Watch: Home-Ice Disadvantage

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After going down 3-2 in the series, the Pittsburgh Penguins have the chance to lock up their spot in the Stanley Cup Final if they can hold off the Lightning.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Well folks, this is it.  The Conference Finals all come down to tonight's game between the Penguins and Lightning as they face off for Game 7 in Pittsburgh.   Home ice has actually not worked in any team's favor in this series, as both Tampa and Pitt have won 2 games on the road and only 1 at home.  Does that pattern hold tonight, or will the Penguins finally break the cycle and clinch their spot in the Stanley Cup Final?

LAST GAME'S RECAP

The Sharks/Blues series came to a close last night, as San Jose didn't feel the same "you're going to lose at home" pressure that's followed the Tampa/Pitt series.  On home ice for Game 6 with a chance to eliminate St. Louis, the Sharks team embodied their name and absolutely shredded the Blues.  San Jose would go up 4-0 in this one, scoring early and never looking back, before Vladimir Tarasenko would net 2 late in the 3rd to kind of make this more interesting.  San Jose was never fazed though, as they would hold on and eventually get the empty-netter and seal the deal with seconds left on the clock.  While the Blues came into this series strong and put up good efforts in most of the games, it looked like they were just done in this one.  On the flip side, San Jose looked like they could do this for days at a time.  They'll be interesting to watch in their first-ever Stanley Cup Final.

TONIGHT'S ACTION

Pittsburgh Penguins vs Tampa Bay Lightning (Game 7), 8:00PM EDT - NBCSN

After all the back and forth of this series, it will all come down to tonight.  Tampa's fish-kids were unable to swim away with a victory in Wednesday's Game 6, going down 2-0 early in the game before finally dropping the decision by a final score of 5-2 as the Penguins went all "Antarctic predator" for the night.  The Lightning never got a good foothold in this game, but I guess that's kind of hard when the team is all made up of fish-parts.  There's no news yet on if Steven Stamkos or Ben Bishop will be in the line-up tonight, but coach Cooper has said both have had no status changes.  UPDATE: Stamkos is unlikely and Bishop ruled out, per NHL.com.

Why You Care Enough To Watch: If the Bolts lose tonight, it'll be worth the watch to play "Where's Waldo" as the camera pans the stands to find the 2 Tampa fans that exist outside of Florida who flew in to Pitt for this game crying in their seats.  Yes, it will be sad for them as they realize that Stamkos has played his last game for the Lightning as this summer he will most likely go literally anywhere else. I doubt the Tampa fans will be distraught for long though, as most of them are snow-birds who cheer mainly for the Red Wings and Blackhawks anyway.  You can bet that if Pittsburgh had lost Crosby like Tampa will lose Stamkos, their 5 fans and Gary Bettman would still be crying about it today.  So tonight, put aside some old hatreds, root for the home team, and then go full-on Team Teal in the Finals.