- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 25, 2011

TAMPA, Fla. — When the Tampa Bay Lightning are in a pinch, they know where to turn for leadership.

Martin St. Louis delivered inspiring pregame words in the locker room, then took the ice and scored two goals to help his team stay alive in the Eastern Conference finals with a 5-4 win over the Boston Bruins in Game 6 on Wednesday night.

“He’s the heart and soul of our team,” rising young star Steven Stamkos said of St. Louis, a six-time All-Star who is one of three players remaining on the roster from Tampa Bay’s only Stanley Cup championship team from seven years ago.

“He’s the first guy to step up and get the guys going. He’s obviously been through every type of experience and every single type of championship you could win, he’s been there. He’s won individual awards. He’s won the Stanley Cup and he’s always been a big part. He knows what to do and how to react in those situations. He stepped up before the game and said a few words, and just the respect he has from every single guy on the team, we take it to heart. … He’s been our go-to guy, and he was again.”


Teddy Purcell also scored twice and resilient goalie Dwayne Roloson weathered a hat trick by Boston’s David Krejci to force Game 7 in Boston on Friday night.

The Bruins are seeking their first trip to the Stanley Cup finals in 21 years, and the Lightning will try to clinch their first appearance on hockey’s biggest stage since they won their title in 2004.

The Western Conference champion Vancouver Canucks await the winner.

“We knew it was going to be a long series. … Comes down to one game. Luckily and fortunately, all our team has been through a Game 7,” St. Louis said. “Some of us have played more, but we’ve had that experience. So we know what to expect. The fourth win is always the toughest one to get and we know both teams will battle hard to get it.”

St. Louis also assisted on a third-period goal that put the Lightning up 4-2. His second goal — and NHL-leading 10th of the playoffs — restored Tampa Bay’s two-goal lead after Boston pulled within 4-3 on one of two goals Krejci scored to keep the Bruins within striking distance in the closing minutes.

Roloson, who didn’t play in Game 5 after being pulled from two of the previous three games because of ineffectiveness, also gave up a pair of first-period goals and finished with 16 saves.

Boston’s Tim Thomas gave up another early goal, then struggled after Krejci and Milan Lucic scored to give the Bruins a 2-1 lead through one period.

The Lightning took control when St. Louis, Purcell and Stamkos scored power-play goals within a 12-minute span of the second and third periods.

“The fourth win, they don’t give it to you, as we learned once again. Not that we were looking for them to give it to us. It’s just more proof that’s the way it goes,” said Thomas, who stopped 21 shots after a superb performance in Game 5 moved the Bruins within one victory of their first Stanley Cup finals appearance since 1991.

“It all comes down to one game now,” Boston center Patrice Bergeron said. “So it’s about making sure we’re keeping our chins up and heads up and make sure we’re ready for that game.”

Roloson improved to 7-0 in elimination games during his career, including 4-0 this postseason. The Lightningrallied from a 3-1 deficit to beat Pittsburgh in the first round, with their 41-year-old goalie shutting out the Penguins in Game 7 on the road.

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