After a grueling dogfight of a playoff game that stretched into double overtime, the Penguins showed the grit and character that's been their trademark all season by gutting their way to a 3-2 over the Lightning in Game 4 in Tampa. Thanks to James Neal’s game-winning goal – his first tally of the postseason – Pittsburgh now has a 3-1 series edge and a chance to clinch at home on Saturday in Game 5.
The Penguins, who played without veteran leader Chris Kunitz, got to their game early much like they did in Game 4, taking a 2-0 lead early in the second. That strong start would prove to be invaluable as the Lightning rallied fiercely – tying the game with just 3:17 remaining in regulation.
But Pittsburgh didn’t get deflated – instead, the Penguins kept battling and staying within their structure. They continued to test Lightning goalie Dwayne Roloson hard and often – a total of 53 times, to be exact – and kept playing their brand of shutdown team defense. Head coach Dan Bylsma was able to roll all four lines to keep them relatively fresh and several players came up with crucial plays at crucial times, allowing the Penguins to hold on for Neal’s eventual game-winner 3:38 into the second overtime.
Pittsburgh’s special teams made the difference on Wednesday, as the Penguins converted on their first power-play opportunity of the game and killed off all four Lightning power plays – including one with just over two minutes left in the first overtime.
This game was the epitome of a team effort.
When a game stretches for as long as this one did – 83 minutes, 38 seconds, to be exact – every single player has to step up and contribute to the best of their abilities and fulfill the roles they excel at despite tired legs and banged-up bodies – and that’s exactly what the Penguins did on Wednesday night.
James Neal was finally rewarded for his hard work when he scored the game-winning goal 3:38 into the second overtime. But before the goal was scored, Jordan Staal won the offensive-zone faceoff (which came after the Penguins forced the Lightning to ice the puck) before later hustling back to keep the puck in the zone and sending it over to Neal on the half wall, who turned and fired for the score. This all came after Staal was shaken up after crashing headfirst into the boards at the beginning of the second overtime.
Every player on the Penguins roster contributed heavily to the win in some way, whether it was a strong NHL playoff debut by Eric Tangradi, a thwarted breakaway by Paul Martin, more timely goals from Arron Asham and Tyler Kennedy, separate sprawling blocked shots by Chris Conner, Matt Niskanen and Mike Rupp or the two full periods of ice time (40:32 minutes) logged by Brooks Orpik. It’s a testament to the team’s mettle that they were able to come out with the win.
With 2:27 left in the first overtime period, Craig Adams was whistled for tripping after getting tangled with Simon Gagne. That meant the Penguins found themselves going up against one of the most potent power plays in the league – in a sudden-death situation, nonetheless – with one of their best penalty killers in the box.
But the Penguins proved to be up to the task.
The Lightning tried their best to beat Marc-Andre Fleury, but the Penguins goalie stood tall – as did Maxime Talbot and Jordan Staal. At one point, those two forwards even converged to make something resembling a “wall” – like the one soccer players make during free kicks – to block a scorcher off the stick of Steven Stamkos.
The Penguins successfully killed the penalty to finish the first overtime unscathed and advance to the next one, where James Neal would score the game-winning goal just 3:38 minutes in.
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) - James Neal scored 3:38 into the second overtime to give the Pittsburgh Penguins a 3-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 4 of their first-round playoff series Wednesday night.
Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 29 shots - 12 of them in the extra periods - to help the Penguins take a commanding 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference matchup. Game 5 is Saturday in Pittsburgh, with the Lightning needing a victory to keep their turnaround season alive.
Neal gathered a loose puck along the boards and sent the winning shot past goalie Dwayne Roloson, who had 50 saves for Tampa Bay.
- Arron Asham extended his playoff point streak to four games by scoring the Penguins’ second goal of the game. His four-game postseason streak is the longest of his career and he leads the Penguins’ playoff scoring with three goals and four points.
- Eric Tangradi made his NHL-career postseason debut in Chris Kunitz’s stead, who was serving a one-game suspension for his hit on Simon Gagne in Game 3. Tangradi made an instant impact in his first-ever playoff game, recording five hits and two shots through 15:12 of ice time. Tangradi saw 2:24 minutes on the power play and provided a crucial net-front presence on Tyler Kennedy’s first-period goal, effectively screening Lighting goalie Dwayne Roloson on the play.
- Paul Martin made one of the best plays of the game when he hustled back to rob the Lightning’s Steven Stamkos on a breakaway attempt with just over a minute left in the second period. Stamkos had received a go-ahead pass that allowed him to split the Penguins’ defense, but Martin refused to be beaten. He caught up to the Lightning forward, then lifted his stick and poked the puck out of danger into the corner in one smooth move.
- The Penguins stymied all three Lightning power plays in regulation, including a crucial kill with just over 10 minutes left in the third with Pittsburgh holding a 2-1 lead. Marc-Andre Fleury made a fantastic pad save on Vincent Lecavalier and Craig Adams and Brooks Orpik came up with a pair of huge blocks. Pittsburgh finished the night a perfect 4-for-4 on the penalty kill.
- Not only did the Penguins kill off all four Lightning power plays, but Pittsburgh connected on their first man-advantage opportunity to go 1-for-3 on the night, ending its 0-for-15 drought that had stretched through the first three games of the series.
- Maxime Talbot took a hit from Lightning defenseman Eric Brewer with just over a minute left in regulation that slammed his head against the glass and had the Penguins forward down on the ice for a few minutes. After being tended to by head athletic trainer Chris Stewart, Talbot went straight to the dressing room. He was back on the bench for the start of the overtime period.
#1. James Neal
Left Wing - 18
GWG in 2nd OT
#2. Martin St. Louis
Right Wing - 26
#3. Arron Asham
Right Wing - 45
|Download the Mike Lange Goal Call of the Night from |
Author: Michelle Crechiolo