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Steven Stamkos not thinking about potential last game with Lightning

PITTSBURGH – Steven Stamkos said there’s no change in his status, which would mean the Tampa Bay Lightning star will likely miss Thursday night’s Eastern Conference Final Game 7 as he continues to work back from surgery to correct a blood clot issue. He hasn’t seen game action since March 31.

The difference between this game and all the others that Stamkos has missed is that the Lightning, with a loss, will have played their final game of the season.

Which means Stamkos, an unrestricted free agent with a swirl of uncertainty around him, may be watching his final game as a member of the Lightning as a spectator.

“I’m not thinking about that,” he said on Thursday.

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Of course, there’s another way to look at Game 7: If the Lightning defeat the Pittsburgh Penguins, they play on to the Stanley Cup Final. Which means another series in which Stamkos could potentially return to the lineup.

Stamkos’s morning skate, an optional one for the Lightning, was shorter than some of his other marathon sessions in this round. “I think we’ve skated enough in the past couple of weeks,” he said after practice. “We’ll see what happens tonight. Hopefully I can skate more in the future.”

He said his status isn’t nearly as important as the task at hand for his team.

“We got another game to win tonight. That’s the focus. The guys have done a great job getting us one win away from the Stanley Cup Final. That’s what we talked about at the beginning of the year, with what we went through last year. You take that every day of the week. I’m excited,” he said.

While last season’s Eastern Conference Final lessons didn’t pay off for the Lightning in Game 6, Stamkos was optimistic they would in Game 7, where the Bolts won on the road last season at Madison Square Garden.

“We went through this before as a group. The guys are definitely comfortable in this situation, they know how we have to play,” he said. “It’s going to be a hostile environment. But we need to play a solid road game like we did last year.”

No one’s sure if he’ll play again in the postseason, or how that call will be made. No one’s sure if he’ll remain a member of the Lightning after this season, or how that call will be made.

“We gotta win tonight. Let’s focus on tonight. We’ll deal with whatever comes after,” he said.

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Greg Wyshynski is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter. His book, TAKE YOUR EYE OFF THE PUCK, is available on Amazon and wherever books are sold.

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