BOSTON -- Steven Stamkos stood in front of a massive collection of media members; the pain he played through was visible for everyone to see.
Stamkos answered questions with a strip of black tape trying to cover whatever measures the Tampa Bay Lightning training staff used to close the wound on the bridge of his nose after he took a puck off his visor in the second period. He returned later in the period and played the rest of Game 7 with a full cage on his helmet.
The Bruins defeated Tampa Bay 1-0 on Friday night to advance to the Stanley Cup Final. Here’s what Stamkos had to say after the game, answering questions while his nose was still bleeding.
Q: It seemed like you were only gone for about five minutes after the injury -- how are you doing?
A: I’ve broken my nose before. It was just a weird play. A guy cut in front of me and I didn’t see the puck coming. It hit me square on, but there’s nothing that was going to keep anyone in this dressing room from staying out of this game.
Q: How much did it hurt to be on the ice for the game-winner?
A: It sucks. Being on for any goal against is tough in the playoffs, especially in a 1-0 game. It was a little breakdown in our system and it was tough, but it is over with now.
Q: I know it is tough now, but can you think of how far this team has come in such a short time?
A: If you take a step back and look at the big picture, you realize just how far we’ve come. It is pretty amazing. I think we’ve got the best bunch of guys I’ve ever played with in my career. The coaching staff did a great job. It is bittersweet obviously because if we win this game we give ourselves a chance to play for the Stanley Cup. You never know when you’re going to get that chance again. It is heartbreaking right now, but to do it with this bunch of guys has been a great run and something I’ll always remember -- but I’ll also remember how close we were.
Q: Did you guys try to use the same strategy as you did against Pittsburgh tonight or is that just the way the game turned out?
A: We just didn’t want to give them too much early, I think. We knew they were going to come out strong, and we just wanted to weather the storm. We could never really just get our legs going. They did a good job and [Roloson] played outstanding for us. He played the game that we needed him to play in order for us to win on this particular night and it is too bad we couldn’t find one.
Q: It seemed like this was pretty indicative of how close this series really was?
A: We knew it was going to be like that. We expected it to be a long series. We expected seven games and we expected a low-scoring, one-goal game. That’s what it was. It was tough to be on the losing end.
Q: You got patched up a little bit, but what’s next, stitches or something else?
A: Who knows -- I am not really worried about that right now. I just wanted to get back as fast as I could because this was obviously the biggest game of my life. It is too bad that we were on the wrong end of it.
Q: Before the game you said if you give everything you can then have a good summer. When you lose at the end like that, what is the feeling like?
A: Obviously I’m very proud of the guys on our team. Everyone, from the ownership down, has given us an opportunity to be in this situation because of their hard work and dedication and it is the same with every player. It was a great run. You never know if you’ll ever get this chance again -- you’re one win away from playing for the Stanley Cup, but at the end of the night we had a chance. They were the better team tonight but [Roloson] kept us in it. Obviously it is tough to win when you don’t score.