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Monday, Sep 24, 2018
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Postgame reactions from Lightning’s Game 7 loss to the Capitals

The Lightning was shut out once in the first 97 games of the season, the playoffs included. Then it was shut out during the last two games of the Eastern Conference final, including 4-0 on Wednesday to the Capitals in Game 7.

Here are some postgame reactions:

Lightning captain Steven Stamkos on the season-ending loss:

"It really sinks in (Thursday), that feeling when you wake up and you think you are just going to keep playing. We've been in that mentality, working extremely hard here for these three rounds and now it's over. It's just a very disappointing, gut-wrenching feeling knowing how special this group was and not ending the way we wanted it to."

Stamkos on the back-to-back shutouts:

"You can't expect to win at this time of the year if you can't score. We have to give them some credit. That's a very good team over there. Their goaltender (Braden Holtby) played extremely well the last two games, and we probably felt how they felt for a couple of those games when (Andrei Vasilevskiy) stole some from them. We have to find a way, our line included, to score 5-on-5. This whole series, the team that won the series probably had the more consistent play 5-on-5 and they played well."

Defenseman Victor Hedman on if he thought this was the Lightning's year to win it all:

"You hope every year it's going to be the year, but we have a special group in here, there's no question about that. We've battled through adversity and tough losses, down in big holes, especially in this series, and we were able to come back and win three straight with two chances to win the series. It's tough when you don't score goals. I think today was the game we generated more scoring chances and it's just tough not to see any of those go in."

Hedman on how disappointing it is to have the season end one win shy of reaching the Cup final:

"Well, I don't know if you can describe, but we put everything on the table tonight, especially the first two periods. We had some unbelievable chances and the puck just didn't go in. Their second goal is a bounce off (Dan Girardi) and 99 out of 100 that's a non-play.

"So, it's tough, but at the end of the day you've got to give them credit, too. That's a really good hockey team and it was a good series. I'm proud of the way we battled back from losing the first two at home and able to battle back and go to Game 7. I don't think there was a lot of people who thought that after the first two games, so a lot of props to our team and our young guys that really stepped up. It's tough to look at the future right after a game, but I think down the line with (Brayden Point) and (Tony) Cirelli, (Mikhail) Sergachev, those guys getting the experience is going to benefit us in the long run."

RELATED: Game 7 photo gallery from the Times photo staff

Lightning defenseman Dan Girardi on the turnover that lead to Andre Burakovsky's goal that gave the Caps a 2-0 lead in the second period:

"It's a dump in (by the Caps). It hits me in the chest. I was just trying to not close my hand on it and take a penalty. It just trickled away from me, couldn't get it. It's a tough bounce. I thought actually for the most part I played a pretty good game. Then we give him a breakaway, the (Burakovsky's goal a few minutes later). They seemed to capitalize on their Grade A chances. We hit a couple posts, just couldn't find that first one to get momentum. I think we had a lot of good looks, just couldn't put one in the net."

Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin on going to his first Stanley Cup final:

"I think everybody is happy, but we still have unfinished business, you know what I mean. I don't know, I'm emotional right now. I think we've been waiting for this moment for a long time. We understand what it has to take to be in the final. You can see this game was unbelievable. Everybody was all in."

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