(SportsNetwork.com) - The final second-round spot will be up for grabs on Wednesday when the Tampa Bay Lightning host the Detroit Red Wings in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals.
The decisive battle of this best-of-seven set comes on the heels of Tampa's 5-2 victory Monday night in Detroit. The Lightning staved off elimination to give themselves a chance to take the series tonight on home ice. However, Tampa has found little advantage at Amalie Arena in the playoffs, going 1-2 as the host in this series after posting a stellar 32-8-1 mark at home during the regular season.
Detroit posted a 4-0 win the last time the clubs met in Tampa, breezing to the Game 5 victory on Saturday. The Red Wings have taken all the odd-numbered contests in this series and hope that trend continues for Wednesday's ultimate showdown.
"No team has been able to win two games in a row in the series. So let's go to Tampa," Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock said.
The winner of tonight's contest will meet the Montreal Canadiens in the conference semifinals. The Atlantic Division champion Canadiens ousted Ottawa in six games and will own home-ice advantage against either Detroit or Tampa.
The Lightning jumped out to a three-goal lead in Game 6 before allowing the Wings to cut the deficit to 3-2. However, Alex Killorn's third-period goal provided Tampa with some much-needed breathing room and Cedric Paquette's empty-netter in the final minute sealed the victory.
Tyler Johnson was the offensive star for the Bolts, notching his third two- goal game of the playoffs to help his club avoid elimination.
"I felt like our team gave 100 percent effort tonight," said Johnson. "It was desperation hockey with our backs against the wall and now we just have to carry it on to Game 7."
Johnson, who tied St. Louis' Vladimir Tarasenko for the playoff lead in goals with six, is the first player in franchise history to register three multi- goal games in a single playoff series. He also tied the team's record for goals in a single series, which Ruslan Fedotenko set from May 10-22, in 2004.
Jason Garrison also lit the lamp and Nikita Kucherov tallied three assists for the Lightning, who improved to 7-6 all-time in elimination games.
Ben Bishop made 22 saves in the important victory. The goaltender anchored a solid penalty-killing effort which held Detroit to just one goal on seven power-play opportunities.
The last time Tampa Bay was down 3-2 on the road in the playoffs was in 2004, when it won the final two games against the Calgary Flames and hoisted the Stanley Cup.
Tampa hasn't won a playoff series since 2011, when it made it to the conference finals before losing to Boston in seven games. Detroit is aiming to advance to the second round for the second time in three seasons after losing in five games to the Bruins in the opening round last year.
Tomas Tatar scored two goals for the Red Wings in the Game 6 loss and Petr Mrazek, who was coming off a 28-save shutout in Game 5, stopped 23 shots in defeat.
Detroit now has to play Game 7 without defenseman Niklas Kronwall, who was suspended one game by the league for a hit on Kucherov in the second period of Monday's game. No penalty was called on the play, but the NHL deemed it to be a charge when announcing the suspension.
"He's real important for us. He plays a lot of minutes," Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg said of Kronwall.
Kronwall is leading Detroit in ice time in this series, averaging 23 minutes, 35 seconds of action per game and also has recorded two assists.
The Red Wings are 14-10 all-time in Game 7s, but just 3-5 on the road. Tampa is 3-1 in Game 7s and has won both of its decisive contests on home ice. Both of the Lightning's home Game 7 victories came during its Stanley Cup championship season of 2004.
Detroit's Henrik Zetterberg leads all players in this series with nine points (3G, 6A) in six Game 7s. Teammate Pavel Datsyuk has four goals and one assist in the do-or-die playoff situation.
Former Red Wing Valtteri Filppula leads all Tampa players with six points (1G, 5A) in six Game 7s.
Both Bishop and Mrazek will be playing in a Game 7 for the first time.