2011 NHL Playoffs: Make It Seven! Lightning Force Decisive Game 7 With 4-2 Win Over Penguins

Steve Downie’s goal early in the third period broke a 2-2 tie, leading the Tampa Bay Lightning to a 4-2 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 6 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal. The series is now tied at three games apiece and will be decided on Wednesday night in Pittsburgh.

Trailing by a goal to start the period, the Penguins tied it at the 3:48 mark. Matt Niskanen held a puck in at the left point and found Jordan Staal with some space at the top of the slot. With James Neal screening Lightning goalie Dwayne Roloson, Staal skated in and wristed a shot past Roloson’s stick side to even the score at 2-2.

The Penguins nearly took the lead on the very next shift. A loose puck bounced onto Maxime Talbot’s stick and he broke in alone on Roloson. But the Lightning goalie made three spectacular, rapid-fire saves right in front of the net — Talbot’s shot, his own rebound, and a follow-up by Pascal Dupuis. Shortly afterward, Tampa Bay would be celebrating a 3-2 lead.

On the ensuing rush up the ice, Simon Gagne chopped a puck up the far boards and Vincent Lecavalier retrieved it near the left point. The Lightning captain wired a pass to Downie, all alone at the net behind the Penguins’ Zbynek Michalek. Downie’s first shot was stopped by Marc-Andre Fleury, but he fit the rebound underneath Fleury to give Tampa Bay their one-goal lead back, only a minute and five seconds after Staal had tied the game.

Near the halfway mark of the third, the Lightning extended the lead. Kris Letang’s dump-in hit one of the struts holding up the glass in the near corner and ricocheted out into the slot, right to Mattias Ohlund. He lifted the puck out of the zone and down the middle, where Ryan Malone beat a surprised Brooks Orpik to it and headed in on a breakaway. (Orpik had skated towards the top of the offensive zone, expecting Letang's pass to roll around the boards and out to the right point so he could hold the zone.) Malone, who had been having a frustrating night, slapped a shot over Fleury’s left shoulder that bounced in off the crossbar to make the score 4-2.

The Lightning easily defended the two-goal lead from there. The only serious scoring threat came with about four minutes left from Letang, who rang a shot off the post that a heavily screened Roloson never saw.

Tampa Bay will attempt to complete their first-ever comeback from a 3-1 series deficit in Wednesday night’s Game 7. Faceoff time and TV details are still to be determined.

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