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Lightning to face Penguins in Eastern Conference Final

by Bryan Burns / Tampa Bay Lightning

The Tampa Bay Lightning and Pittsburgh Penguins have already produced one iconic series in the teams’ playoff history.

Now they’ll get a chance for another.

The Lightning and Penguins will meet in the 2016 Eastern Conference Final – the series to start later this week at a date to be determined – with a spot in the Stanley Cup Final on the line. The Bolts are playing in their second-straight ECF and third in the last six years. The Pens are in the East final for the first time since 2013 after defeating the Washington Capitals 4-3 in overtime in Tuesday’s Game 6 to win the Second Round series against the Caps 4-2.

Games 1 and 2 of the ECF will be at Pittsburgh’s Consol Energy Center as the Penguins own home-ice advantage courtesy of their superior regular-season record. Games 3 and 4 will be played at Amalie Arena.

Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh have met only once previously in the playoffs, but the series was an instant classic (especially if you’re a Lightning fan).

The Penguins held a three-games-to-one lead in the 2011 Eastern Conference Quarterfinal round against the Lightning after splitting a pair of games at home and taking both Games 3 and 4 in Tampa. The Pens had a chance to close out the series at Consol Energy Center in Game 5, but the Lightning exploded for eight goals in an 8-2 bludgeoning, the eight goals a playoff franchise record for the Bolts that still stands.

Tampa Bay won Game 6 at home by a 4-2 count and went back on the road to finish off the series 1-0 in Pittsburgh in Game 7, Bolts goalie Dwayne Roloson stealing the spotlight by stopping all 36 shots he faced.

The Lightning would go on to advance to the Eastern Conference Final in 2011 before falling in seven games to the Boston Bruins.

The First Round rally against the Penguins remains the only time in playoff history the Lightning have come back from a three-games-to-one deficit.

Tampa Bay went 3-0-0 against Pittsburgh in the 2015-16 regular season, winning twice at home and once in Pittsburgh. Vladislav Namestnikov netted the overtime game-winner in their first meeting Jan. 15, a 5-4 Lightning victory. The Lightning scored a pair of goals in each period to double up the Penguins 6-3 at home on Feb. 5, and the Bolts completed the regular-season sweep with a 4-2 win in Pittsburgh Feb. 20, Steven Stamkos recording the 300th goal of his NHL career in the process.

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