Kukla's Korner

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Cedric Paquette Comes Up Big Again

from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,

"It’s as if I’m not feeling a thing right now, it’s incredible the emotions since the beginning of the season," Paquette said. "Going down [to the AHL] and being recalled, since then I’ve matured. And even when things weren’t going as well at the start of the playoffs I just kept my game simple and I think I’m being rewarded since the start of the finals."

The hero on this night is making quite a name for himself on the biggest stage of his life. One in a long line of Tampa Bay draft picks coming through the system, the 21-year-old from Gaspe, Quebec, was a fourth-round pick (101st overall) in the 2012 draft.

"He kind of flies under the radar with this group we have in here with the amount of talent that we have, but all year he's been huge for us defensively," said linemate Ryan Callahan, who played another outstanding game and scored the first goal of the game. "He's chipped in and he's kind of come out a bit here in this series. I think everybody is starting to realize what we've known all along, how good he is."

Centering the team’s third line between Callahan and J.T. Brown, Paquette has been the most surprising story so far in this championship series.

"I can't say enough, honestly," Lightning defenseman Anton Stralman said. "He's been stepping up these three games. I don't think anybody saw that coming and it's really fun to watch. We knew he was a big player for us, really solid defensively and going up against the best centerman in the league and doing that job unbelievably well. It's really fun to see."

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About Kukla's Korner Hockey

Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.

Email Paul anytime at pk@kuklaskorner.com