TAMPA -- A bunch of "no-names" helped the Tampa Bay Lightning stave off elimination for a second straight game.
Steve Downie had a goal and two assists while Sean Bergenheim, Teddy Purcell and Ryan Malone also scored as the Lightning rallied to beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-2 in Game 6 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series on Monday night at the St. Pete Times Forum.
Downie scored the game-winner early in the third period just 1:07 after Jordan Staal tied the game for the Penguins. Malone finished it off with a breakaway less than 5 minutes later, ensuring the Lightning would tie the series at 3-3 and return to Pittsburgh for a decisive Game 7 on Wednesday night.
"Anybody who's followed us all year long knows that that was the trademark of our team," Lightning coach Guy Boucher said. "The fourth-liners, the third-liners, the grinders, the defensemen -- we always had new heroes every game. These guys, I would call the 'no-names,' certainly have a name for us. The work that they put in all year long is paying off in the playoffs."
During the first five games of this series, the team scoring first emerged victorious. That finally changed Monday.
Max Talbot capitalized on a turnover by Lightning goaltender Dwayne Roloson midway through the first period, gathering a loose puck and feeding Pascal Dupuis in the slot. Dupuis one-timed a quick shot that squeezed through Roloson's legs and put the Penguins ahead 1-0 after 8:23 of the first period.
The Penguins suffocated the Lightning early, holding them without a shot for the first 9:38 of the game. But Purcell, whose 12 minutes of ice time were the fewest among Lightning forwards, made the most of his opportunity.
Eight seconds after a Lightning power play expired, Purcell took advantage of a loose puck and the Penguins scrambling defensively to roof a shot over a fallen Marc-Andre Fleury to make it 1-1 with 3:24 left in the first period.
"That's why we've been so successful all year," said Lightning forward Steven Stamkos, who didn't register a point in the contest. "It's everybody stepping up at key moments."
Bergenheim put the Lightning ahead at home for the first time in the series at 5:44 of the second period, converting a gorgeous pass from behind the net by Dominic Moore. As Moore skated behind the net, he stopped and passed the puck in the other direction. Fleury was caught on the wrong post as Bergenheim slid home his second goal of the series.
"I saw it coming. What a great play, what can I say," Bergenheim said. "Sometimes you kind of look for those plays, and he made a great one. We have (practiced it) during the year. Those are just reads that happen in the game."
Bergenheim talked about the need to get contributions from everyone at this time of the year.
"It is so important in the playoffs to get that," he said. "Somebody's always going to have a bad game -- not that anybody today had a bad game, but there's always somebody who's going to score. That's one of the things about our team. We have that depth with so many players who can score. It's definitely a strength."
The Penguins had a chance to tie it at 9:10 of the second period when Chris Conner was tripped on a breakaway by defenseman Pavel Kubina and was awarded a penalty shot.
Conner's dream situation turned into a nightmare, as the puck bounced off his stick as he skated toward Roloson. He was able to gather the puck and fire a slap shot from a bad angle, but Roloson easily made the save.
The Lightning took a 2-1 lead to the second intermission, but Staal's goal at 3:48 of the third period silenced the sell-out crowd of 20,309, but only for a brief minute.
Talbot had a chance to put the Penguins ahead 30 seconds later, but his breakaway attempt and subsequent rebound were stopped by Roloson. Dupuis also had a chance, but Roloson turned that away as well.
In a blink, the Lightning were on the attack, and Downie scored the game-winner after Fleury made a save from in tight.
Boucher had high praise for Downie, who missed Game 4 due to a suspension for leaving his feet to hit Penguins defenseman Ben Lovejoy in Game 3. Boucher talked about how important it is for Downie, known for his emotional play, to keep his wits about him during heated situations.
"What I liked about his game tonight wasn't just his offensive game," Boucher said. "I really liked the way he was controlling his emotions. It's something he's been working really hard to do this year and it's tough, because he was always asked to be extremely emotional and physical. He's a very smart hockey player, and that's something a lot of people don't know."
"I put that behind me," Downie said. "It's a big game for our team, and everybody wants to score that goal. It just happened to be me tonight."
Boucher said Monday morning that he didn’t believe in momentum from game to game. He believes that the Lightning's 8-2 victory in Game 5 had no bearing on what happened in Game 6. Roloson was asked for his thoughts on momentum after the game.
"I think he's correct," Roloson said. "He's got his Master's in psychology, so he would know about that stuff. I don't have my Master's in psychology, but I have to agree with him."
The Lightning and Penguins have said all along they were expecting a seven-game series. So the fact the Penguins had a 3-1 lead before getting to a Game 7 doesn't matter to anyone in either locker room.
"It doesn't matter," Fleury said. "We still have to win the next game. That's how it has to be. We're just trying to be positive. "
"We planned for Game 7 in triple overtime," Malone said. "Hopefully it doesn't go to triple overtime, but we put ourselves in this situation. Now it's going to come down to one game. "
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