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Aftermath: Lightning 4, Penguins 2

by Michelle Crechiolo / Pittsburgh Penguins
4 - 2

FINAL 1 2 3 T
1 1 2 4
PENGUINS 1 0 1 2
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Bylsma | Fleury | Letang | Neal | Talbot
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The Penguins have said from the start they were treating their first-round series with the Tampa Bay Lightning as a seven-game series. On Monday, those words became reality.

Although Pittsburgh rebounded with a much better effort in Game 6 after a tough Game 5 loss, it wasn’t enough to stifle the Lightning, who forced a Game 7 in Pittsburgh with their 4-2 win – their first victory of the series on their home ice.

The Penguins got off to a fast start, fueled by their strong defensive play that kept Tampa Bay from recording a shot through the first 11 minutes of play. The Penguins defense kept forcing turnovers and didn’t allow the Lightning to gain the offensive zone.

But a pair of late power plays to end the first period swung the momentum in Tampa Bay’s favor, opening the door for the Lightning to get on the board with just over three minutes left to play.

Pittsburgh refused to give up despite surrendering the lead in the second period, with every player leaving their hearts and souls on the ice to battle back and tie the game early in the third. However, Tampa Bay responded seconds later to regain the lead, a deficit Pittsburgh couldn't rally from a second time.

The series moves back to Pittsburgh for Game 7, which will take place Wednesday at CONSOL Energy Center.


Star of the Game
Jordan Staal has a history of coming up with colossal efforts in big playoff games. Tonight was no different.

The young but battle-tested center – who’s already played in 66 career postseason games at age 22 – showed his playoff experience with his impressive determination and competitiveness in such an important game for the Penguins.

Staal’s battle level was through the roof from the drop of the puck, and his efforts resulted in the Penguins’ game-tying goal that knotted the score at 2-2 early in the third, giving Pittsburgh some much-needed life after trailing for most of the second period.

On the play, Staal outbattled a Lightning player on the boards to send a pass back to Matt Niskanen on the point. Niskanen handed the puck right back to Staal, who wristed a shot past Lightning goalie Dwayne Roloson for his first goal of the postseason.

Staal threw his body around to finish with a game-high five hits to go along with three shots through 22:35 minutes of ice time, a total that led all Penguins forwards.


Turning Point
After the Lightning battled their way to a 2-1 lead that they held onto for the majority of the middle frame, Jordan Staal – who has a history of stepping up in big games – tied the game just 3:48 into the third period.

The Penguins fed off that huge goal, with Maxime Talbot finding his way behind the Bolts’ defense less than a minute later to go in alone on Lightning goalie Dwayne Roloson. However, Roloson came up with the saves of the game when he stymied Talbot before getting a pad on Pascal Dupuis' rebound opportunity.

The Bolts, powered by Roloson’s pair of clutch saves, regained the lead just 20 seconds later when Steve Downie found his way behind the Penguins defense and slipped a puck under Fleury for what would prove to be the game-winning goal. Pittsburgh battled hard, but couldn’t recover from that tally.


AP Recap
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) - Steve Downie scored to snap a third-period tie and Dwayne Roloson stopped 27 shots Monday night, helping the Tampa Bay Lightning beat Marc-Andre Fleury and the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-2 to force a Game 7 in their first-round playoff series.

The deciding game is Wednesday night in Pittsburgh, where Tampa Bay has already won twice this postseason, including an 8-2 Game 5 blowout that began its comeback from a 3-1 deficit in the Eastern Conference series.

Downie put the Lightning ahead for good, scoring just over a minute after Pittsburgh's Jordan Staal gave the Penguins life with a goal that made it 2-2 early in the third. Teddy Purcell, Sean Bergenheim and Ryan Malone also scored against Fleury.


- Maxime Talbot now has three points (all assists) in his last two games. He earned the third on Pascal Dupuis’ first-period goal when he hustled behind the net and capitalized on a misplay by Lightning goalie Dwayne Roloson. Talbot picked up the puck and flung it to Dupuis in the slot, who slammed it home for the score.

- Chris Conner was awarded a penalty shot with 10:50 left in the first period after Pavel Kubina tripped him on a clean breakaway with Pittsburgh down 2-1. However, the puck rolled off Conner’s stick on the way to the net in an unfortunate twist. Conner is now 1-for-2 on penalty shots in his career, as he capitalized on his only other attempt on Jan. 18 against Detroit at CONSOL Energy Center.

- Tyler Kennedy, who earned an assist on Jordan Staal's goal, finished with a game-high six shots on goal in the contest. He continues to lead both teams in the series with 29 shots through six games.

- Craig Adams proved why he is one of the Penguins’ best penalty killers with his performance on Monday. Adams recorded four blocked shots, all of them absolutely crucial ones. He came up with a sequence of two huge blocks on Tampa Bay’s first power play of the game that helped keep the Lightning off the scoreboard. Adams then dropped to the ice on Tampa Bay’s second power play of the game to block a scorcher from the stick of Steven Stamkos.

- The Penguins' penalty killers stymied all three Lightning power plays in tonight's game after Tampa Bay went 3-for-7 with the man-advantage in Game 5.


#1. Steve Downie
  Right Wing - 9

2 assists
Plus-3 rating


#2. Nate Thompson
  Center - 44

4 blocked shots
3 hits
5:53 shorthanded TOI


#3. Dominic Moore
  Center - 19

1 assist
2 takeaways
16:37 TOI

Author: Michelle Crechiolo
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