The Penguins came out strong in the first period of Game 7, but the Tampa Bay Lightning weathered the storm and found their footing in the second period to win 1-0, taking the series, 4-3, ending the Penguins’ 2010-11 season.
The first Game 7 in the history of CONSOL Energy Center started out in the Penguins’ favor. Pittsburgh outshot Tampa Bay 15-7 and dominated possession in the first period. But Lightning goaltender Dwayne Roloson has never lost an elimination game, and he proved why. He stymied all of the Penguins’ scoring chances, stopping all 36 shots for his second playoff shutout.
Penguins fans did their best to create a hostile environment for the Lightning, as the crowd roared for every Penguin success – from scoring chances to Lightning icing calls. But a best-of seven series is a grind, and Tampa Bay battled through the hostility to take the lead in the second period when Dominic Moore set up Sean Bergenheim with a nice backdoor pass to put the Lightning on the board first.
Midway through the second period, Marc-Andre Fleury saved the day. With the Lightning’s potent power play pressuring the Penguins’ penalty kill, a wide open Pavel Kubina found the puck at the bottom of the right circle.
Kubina had a perfect look at the top of the net from the right side. He ripped a wrister up high, but Fleury slid over into position and flashed the glove, stunning Kubina just in time to keep the Lightning lead at only one goal.
The save ignited the crowd and powered the Penguins to two straight successful penalty kills. But despite the momentum, and a furious third-period rally, the Penguins couldn’t quite solve Roloson.
The Lightning will move on to face the Washington Capitals in the second round, while the Penguins will work on getting healthy for what looks to be another exciting season next year.
Game 7s are all about determination. The previous 82 regular-season games mean nothing, and the first six games of the series are in the past.
Wednesday night, Kris Letang reminded everyone why his name was in the running for the Norris Trophy. Nobody on the ice matched Letang’s motivation throughout the game. In the first period, he dished a perfect heads-up pass to Chris Kunitz, who beat the defense for a breakaway.
Kunitz’s shot sailed just wide, but Letang wasn’t discouraged. In the second period, he created two of the Penguins’ best opportunities. First, he took the puck coast-to-coast, speeding into the offensive zone. He used his body to power past several defenders and snapped a backhander toward Roloson, which the goaltender managed to kick aside.
Then, with the clock winding down, Letang received the puck at the point and blasted a slapper that bounced off Roloson’s pads.
In the third period, he showed even more resiliency. Skating down the slot in the offensive zone, he was hassled closely by a Lightning defender. But he battled through the contact to send a shot off Roloson’s pads that Tyler Kennedy nearly poked into the cage.
Letang threw his body in front of two shots, while sending six pucks toward Tampa Bay’s net, and that’s not including his three shots that were blocked. He finished with 26:22 of ice time.
Pittsburgh powered through the first period, sending 15 shots toward Dwayne Roloson. The Penguins came out flying once again after the first intermission, but Roloson simply refused to let anything past him.
Once the Lightning started to gain their footing, the Penguins defense and Marc-Andre Fleury also proved they were up to the task, stifling a few nice opportunities by Tampa Bay’s star-powered forwards.
But after the Penguins blocked a great point-black shot by the Lightning, Dominic Moore found the puck behind the net. He fed it to the side of the cage to Sean Bergenheim, who tipped a shot top shelf past Marc-Andre Fleury to give the Lightning the only goal they would need to clinch the series.
PITTSBURGH (AP) - Dwayne Roloson made 36 saves for his second NHL playoff shutout, Sean Bergenheim scored, and the Tampa Bay Lightning completed a big series comeback and eliminated the Pittsburgh Penguins with a 1-0 win in Game 7 on Wednesday night.
Roloson became the second goalie to go 6-0 in elimination games. He allowed only four goals in winning the final three games as Tampa Bay erased a 3-1 series deficit. That matched his feat in 2003 when he led the Minnesota Wild to a comeback against the Vancouver Canucks in the second round.
The No. 5 seed Lightning will now face the top-seeded Washington Capitals in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
- Despite the loss, the Penguins fans offered the team a well-earned salute. They even chanted “Fleury! Fleury!” at the end of the game much like they did back on Nov. 12 against none other than the Lightning, a win that turned Fleury’s season around.
- Arron Asham finished the playoffs as the Penguins’ leading goal-scorer with three tallies. He tied Maxime Talbot (1G-3A) and Kris Letang (4A) as leading scorers with four points each.
- Mike Rupp led the Penguins in the playoffs with a plus-4 rating, while Orpik led the team with 14 blocked shots.
- The series started with Brooks Orpik laying a huge hit on Steven Stamkos that energized the crowd and set the tone for the Penguins’ 3-0 Game 1 victory. Orpik provided the home crowd a nice dose of déjà vu in the first period when he slammed Stamkos into nearly the same exact corner boards to ignite the crowd.
- Tampa Bay is 3-0 all-time in Game 7s, with Wednesday’s win being the first on the road for the Lightning.
- Dwayne Roloson is now 6-0 in elimination games, including the three his Lightning faced in this series.
- Attendance was 18,507, the Penguins’ 210th consecutive sellout.
#1. Dwayne Roloson
Goaltender - 35
#2. Sean Bergenheim
Left Wing - 10
#3. Marc-Andre Fleury
Forward - 25
1 goal allowed
22 saves on 23 shots
Author: Tony Jovenitti