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Penguins v Lightning - 2011 Stanley Cup Conference Quarterfinals

Lightning get big lift from third line

Dave Lozo - NHL.com Staff Writer

PITTSBURGH -- All championship teams need contributions from players who aren't the stars. The difference between winning and losing most times is the performance of the third line.

The Tampa Bay Lightning think they may have found something special in the trio of Sean Bergenheim, Dominic Moore and Steve Downie.

Downie scored the winner against the Penguins in a do-or-die Game 6, and Bergenheim scored the only goal in the Lightning's 1-0 victory in Game 7 on Wednesday to send Tampa Bay to the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

They had 5 goals and 10 assists in the seven-game victory, helping ease the burden of the team's top offensive threats -- Martin St. Louis, Vincent Lecavalier and Steven Stamkos.

Penguins insist they didn't relax

Alan Robinson - NHL.com Correspondent

PITTSBURGH  -- This had never happened to the Pittsburgh Penguins since the Sidney Crosby era began in 2005. Or since the Mario Lemieux era started in 1984.

They led a playoff series 3-1. And they didn't win it.

It's happened now, largely -- when they needed it most -- they lacked a scorer who even began to resemble the injured Crosby or long-since-retired Lemieux. Or a power play that resembled an even remotely-effective unit.

All that went well for the Penguins in the first four games of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series against the Tampa Bay Lightning failed them as they were outscored 13-4 in the final three games – 1-0 in the decisive Game 7 at Consol Energy Center on Wednesday night. 

Fleury provides Game 7 confidence, experience

Alan Robinson - NHL.com Correspondent

PITTSBURGH -- Game 7s are Marc-Andre Fleury's best friend. And his worst enemy.

Fleury played about as well as a goaltender can play in a Stanley Cup Final Game 7 two years ago as the Pittsburgh Penguins became the first road team in 38 years to win that last possible game in the last possible series.

Fleury's sprawling, last-moment save against defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom to preserve the Cup-clinching 2-1 victory is one of the great moments in Penguins history -- one that will be replayed as long as the Final is played. It doesn't get much better for a goaltender than that.

Then there was last year.

The defending Cup champion Penguins prematurely exited the postseason in the Eastern Conference Semifinals as the eighth-seeded Montreal Canadiens closed down Pittsburgh's 49-year-old Mellon Arena with a 5-2 victory in Game 7. Montreal scored less than a minute into the game and jumped to a 4-0 lead, chasing Fleury. It doesn't get much worse for a goaltender than that.

Stamkos excited, ready for first Game 7 experience

Dave Lozo - NHL.com Staff Writer

PITTSBURGH -- Steven Stamkos has never played in a Game 7, but he'll get a taste of it Wednesday night when his Tampa Bay Lightning square off with the Pittsburgh Penguins at Consol Energy Center.

The Lightning have rallied from a 3-1 deficit in this best-of-7 Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series with an 8-2 win here in Game 5 and a come-from-behind 4-2 victory in Game 6 in Tampa.

Stamkos talked with reporters Wednesday morning about his team's state of mind and what he's expecting from himself in his first Game 7.

Roloson puts perfect elimination mark at risk

Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

After beating the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 6 to extend his team's season, Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Dwayne Roloson was asked if he knew his record in elimination games.

He quickly said that he didn't want to know.

Well, no one show this to Roloson, but he's now 5-0 in games where the losing team starts its summer vacation.

That includes the last two games of this first-round series, when he's kept the Lightning alive with strong efforts in Games 5 and 6 to force Wednesday's Game 7 (8 p.m. ET, NHL Network-US, VERSUS (joined in progress), TSN).

Lightning are ready for another elimination game

Alan Robinson - NHL.com Correspondent

PITTSBURGH – To coach Guy Boucher, the Tampa Bay Lightning shouldn't be fearful or intimidated by a Game 7 in Pittsburgh.

Why should they? To Boucher, what's one more potential elimination game for a resilient team that played such games against the Penguins in Games 5 and 6 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals – and won?

"We've been playing Game 7 hockey for the past two games, and we're not about to change our attitude," Boucher said Tuesday.

The Lightning faced win-or-else situations Saturday in Pittsburgh – an 8-2 victory – and again Monday in Tampa, when they won 4-2 in Game 6 to even the series. With both teams now having to win or go home, at least one Tampa Bay player says it's the Penguins who should be feeling the pressure and fearing elimination. 

Pens shrug off losses, poor Game 7 home mark

Alan Robinson - NHL.com Correspondent

"I don't know if we're in trouble; obviously our season could be coming to an end if we don't come to play. But I don't think anybody in here is fearing losing. We feel like we played a good game in Game 6. We didn't give them a lot, but they capitalized." -- Mark Letestu

PITTSBURGH -- Maybe they can't help but grip their sticks a little tighter, can't help but worry their next mistake will be the one that costs them their season.

That comfort zone the Pittsburgh Penguins enjoyed while holding a 3-1 lead over Tampa Bay in the Eastern Conference quarterfinal-round series is gone following successive losses to the Lightning, who have found their game and rediscovered their confidence. With one more loss, the Penguins' season will vanish with it.

The Penguins were in a similar situation against the Montreal Canadiens last season, and they couldn't have responded much worse. The experience gained during a 2010-11 season that has turned out much better than might be anticipated tells the Penguins there is reason to hope this Game 7 goes better.

Roloson's trio of saves preserves win for Bolts

Dave Lozo - NHL.com Staff Writer

TAMPA -- When Lightning GM Steve Yzerman acquired Dwayne Roloson on New Year's Day from the New York Islanders, even he probably couldn't have envisioned what the 41-year-old goaltender was going to do during Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals on Monday night.

After Jordan Staal pulled the Pittsburgh Penguins into a 2-2 tie at 3:48 of the third period, Maxime Talbot was bearing down on Roloson just seconds later with a clear-cut breakaway. With the Lightning trailing 3-2 in the series, not only was the game on the line, but so was the season.

Roloson stopped Talbot not once, but twice, then made another brilliant save on Pascal Dupuis to keep the game tied. Thirty seconds later, Steve Downie scored the game-winning goal that allowed the Lightning to prevail 4-2 and force a decisive Game 7 on Wednesday night in Pittsburgh.

"That was a series-changer for sure. He saved the game for us," teammate Steven Stamkos said. "We see it every day in practice. He just never quits. He's defying the odds, doing it at his age is unbelievable. He was our best player."

Pens expecting Fleury's best off subpar outing

Dave Lozo - NHL.com Staff Writer

TAMPA, Fla. -- Goaltenders need short memories, and those who have them can recover from poor performances more quickly than others.

As Penguins forward Michael Rupp pointed out Monday morning at the St. Pete Times Forum, Marc-Andre Fleury has that and a little something extra most goaltenders lack.

"He's obviously an athletic and talented goalie, but he has this knack of … life's good, you know," Rupp said of Fleury's care-free attitude that could serve him well for Monday night's Game 6 (7 p.m., Versus, CBC, RDS) against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Penguins expect to bounce back from loss

Alan Robinson - NHL.com Correspondent

PITTSBURGH  --  There are losses, and then there are bad losses. As far as Stanley Cup Playoffs losses go, they don't get much worse than the Pittsburgh Penguins' 8-2 defeat at home to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

For the Penguins, it wasn't just the seven consecutive goals they allowed after dominating play for most of the opening 15 minutes. The four power-play goals permitted by what was the NHL's best penalty-killing unit during the regular season.  The numerous Lightning goals off rebounds that occurred in part because the Penguins couldn't move bodies out of the crease.  The 0-for-7 power play.

No, there wasn't much to like on Saturday – and not much time to get it right again before Game 6 Monday night in Tampa, where the Penguins get a second chance to close out the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series.

"I think there are some emotional parts of losing a game 8-2 that are different than losing a game 3-2 in OT," coach Dan Bylsma said Sunday. "(It's about) regrouping.  Certainly, there are things we have to talk about and discuss."
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Quote of the Day

The old saying in hockey is 'weather the storm.' I put the notion in their heads that we don't want to weather the storm, we want to push just as hard and matched their work ethic. I thought our guys exceeded that in the first period.

— Edmonton Oilers coach Dallas Eakins after their loss to the Nashville Predators on Thursday
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