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Drouin rebounds with goal in Game 4

Forward helps Tampa Bay tie Eastern Final against Penguins

by Corey Long / Correspondent

Drouin's stuff-in PPG

PIT@TBL, Gm4: Drouin pads the lead on the power play

ECF, Gm4: Jonathan Drouin sends a pass in front that redirects right back to him, firing the puck into the net to give the Lightning a 3-0 lead

  • 01:14 •

TAMPA -- If Tampa Bay Lightning forward Jonathan Drouin was down heading into Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Final against the Pittsburgh Penguins, he didn't allow himself to stay there for long.

Drouin scored a power-play goal to help the Lightning earn a 4-3 win and tie the best-of-7 series 2-2. Game 5 is at Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh on Sunday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).

"It was huge because I wasn't happy with the way I played in Game 3," Drouin said. "And to put that in was a big relief."

The lasting image of Drouin from Game 3 on Wednesday was losing the puck along the half wall in the offensive zone, a turnover that would lead to a Pittsburgh goal with 10 seconds remaining in the second period.

On Friday, Drouin gave the Lightning a 3-0 lead at 14:38 of the second period. He also had two hits and frustrated the Penguins with his determination on the backcheck.

In the past Drouin, the No. 3 pick in the 2013 NHL Draft, struggled to put mistakes behind him and admittedly felt pressure to redeem himself immediately, which often led to more issues. He's learned how to move on from a bad game and not allow negative moments to linger.

"I don't think anybody was happy with the way they played in Game 3 (a 4-2 loss), but if you keep focusing on it, it's never going to get away from your head," Drouin said. "We wanted to put that one behind us."

Drouin's mental toughness is something that's been noticed by his teammates since his return April 7. He's provided an offensive spark with captain Steven Stamkos unavailable to play. The 21-year-old has four goals and eight assists in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"He's helping us win hockey games, so it's really cool," forward Brian Boyle said. "We love it. He's putting the work in. We've said it time and again, he's been a great pro since he's been back and he's put a lot of responsibility on himself. He's demanded a lot of himself and he's making a difference in playoff games. That's a special thing, especially for a young kid. He's gone through a lot this year and it's been a lot of fun to see him mature like that because that's a hard thing to do, the whole thing, taking it all in."

Drouin has earned the trust of coach Jon Cooper, who was quick to come to his defense after Game 3 and continued to praise the forward after his effort Friday.

"Guys make mistakes all the time," Cooper said. "But Jonathan has done way more positive than he has negative. There's not a chance we're going to sit him down or anybody down because they make one or two mistakes in a game. That kid is mentally tough and he's proven that throughout this whole year and now into the playoffs."

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