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Lightning look to solve Fleury, Penguins in Game 2

by Brian Hunter

(Pittsburgh leads best-of-seven series, 1-0)


Big story:
On Wednesday night, the Lightning played their first postseason game since 2007; on Friday night they'll try again to score their first playoff goal since Brad Richards struck on the power play in the second period of Game 6 of an Eastern Conference quarterfinal against New Jersey. Tampa Bay was stymied by Pittsburgh goalie Marc-Andre Fleury in the series opener, as he turned aside all 28 of their shots in a 3-0 victory for the Penguins.

Team Scope:

Lightning: The goaltending wasn't just stingy on the opposing side in Game 1 -- veteran Dwayne Roloson, seeing his first playoff action since being injured in the opening game of the 2006 Stanley Cup Final, when he played for Edmonton against Carolina, shut out the Penguins for more than 46 minutes on Wednesday. But the Lightning surrendered a pair of goals just 18 seconds apart and couldn't recover. Overall, though, the team tried to take away the positive.

"The shots were there, I think it's just our compete level in front of the net needs to be better, and we are going to address that so we are in the right positions to get those rebounds with the open net and put them in,'' center Steven Stamkos told the Tampa Tribune. "Fleury made the first save a lot, but it was the rebounds, that we just couldn't put them in and that's something we are going to be aware of in Game 2.''

Penguins: Without Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, leaders in Pittsburgh's run to consecutive Stanley Cup Final appearances in 2008 and 2009 and a championship in the latter trip, the Penguins took their playoff opener in much the same fashion as they won games down the stretch without those superstars. Fleury was fantastic and they found offense from other sources. Veteran Alex Kovalev opened the scoring, gritty forward Arron Asham quickly doubled the lead and Chris Kunitz put the finishing touches on the win with an empty-net goal.

"It is key for us. But Wednesday's game means nothing unless we win Friday," Asham said. "I am sure they are going to come out firing and ready to play and we have got to match them."

Who's hot:
Roloson finished with 37 saves for the Lightning in the opener and defenseman Victor Hedman, in his first NHL playoff game, had a team-high five shots in almost 23 minutes of ice time. … Fleury's shutout was the fifth of his playoff career. Jordan Staal led all players in Game 1 with six shots and won 56 percent of his faceoffs.

Injury report:
Tampa Bay forward Martin St. Louis took an accidental stick to the face from Zbynek Michalek on Wednesday and lost three teeth, but he's good to go. Defenseman Randy Jones (ankle) and Matt Smaby (lower body) were scratches in Game 1 and remain day-to-day. … Crosby's situation for Pittsburgh remains status quo, as he's participating in morning skates but isn't cleared for contact yet.

Stat pack: Roloson's 18 saves in the second period set a Lightning playoff record, eclipsing by one the previous mark held by Jeff Reese (first round, 1996) and Johan Holmqvist (first round, 2007). … Penguins defenseman Kris Letang led all skaters with 27:19 of ice time, including seven minutes on the power play, and finished with an assist, four shots and a plus-2 rating.

Puck drop:
Tampa Bay's top three of Stamkos, St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier was held to a single shot over the first two periods in the opener and finished the night minus-5 as a group. It was yeoman's work done by the Pittsburgh defense, with coach Dan Bylsma using the pairing of Michalek and Paul Martin against the St. Louis and Lecavalier line and relying on Letang and Brooks Orpik to check Stamkos and company.

"You just have to limit them to a minimum and keep them on the outside," Michalek said of Wednesday's key to success. "They've got a lot of speed, they're really skilled. They can hurt you in many ways, so we've got to make sure we are ready and let (Fleury) see the puck. He's playing well."

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