The game was played just as head coach Guy Boucher would have liked, with a five-man unit on defense. Lightning goaltender Dwayne Roloson had 33 saves and was arguably the team’s most valuable penalty killer last night.
Tampa Bay had goals from Brett Connolly, Steve Downie, and two goals from Vincent Lecavalier. Two of the Lightning’s goals came on the man-advantage, where the Pittsburgh Penguins have dominated all season long. Prior to tonight’s game, Marc Andre Fleury only let one goal in on the man advantage, helping Pittsburgh to an NHL leading 94.9 percentage on the power play.
After struggling on the road, Tampa Bay played a complete game Thursday night and did everything they needed to do in order to win. The Lightning were outshot 32-18, but did everything else right including blocking shots (25) and getting their sticks on the puck. There could have been more offensive pressure from the Lightning, who let Pittsburgh have 11 straight shots in the second period and were outshot 14-6 in that period as well. They did, however, improve their defensive efforts with a complete five-man unit.
I just think this was one of the most complete games the Lightning has played as a team all season (all 19 games so far).There weren’t any stupid mistakes, they capitalized on special teams, and they improved their efforts on forechecking.
Lecavalier’s unassisted goal was the Lightning’s first shot of the game, which came at 8:38 of the first period after he stole it in the offensive zone. It looked like another slow start for the Lightning but after the captain’s goal, the team started to generate more pressure and quality shots on Fleury.
Then, in the second period, the Lightning went on the man advantage after Tyler Kennedy was called for high sticking. Dominic Moore took a shot from the point and Connolly tipped it in, giving the Lightning a two goal lead at 4:08 of the second period. Connolly’s goal is the first on the man advantage that Fleury has given up all season.
The Penguins had a multitude of chances to find the net and almost did when they went on the power play in the second period, even having a shot go off the post. Roloson was forced to make some unbelievable saves and was the main reason why Tampa Bay kept Pittsburgh off the scoresheet.
Steve Downie extended the Lightning’s lead to three goals after finding the back of the net at 2:02 of the third period.
It was the Roloson show after that.
Roloson robbed an Evgeni Malkin one-timer and stopped two Steve Sullivan backhanders.
Lecavalier then scored his second of the game with an empty-netter with 4:11 left.
Fleury was pulled with a little over four minutes left to go in the game, which did help the Penguins score a goal but ultimately didn’t do much for them. Even stranger was that Fleury was pulled again after that, giving Pittsburgh a one man advantage, which doesn’t seem worth the risk when the Lightning could have easily score another empty-netter.
The Saint Petersburg Times three stars of the game were 3. Vincent Lecavalier (two goals) 2. Victor Hedman 1. Dwayne Roloson (33 saves).