RFREHFRHFUH GRHEHEHFHFHEHHGHE HRGRGGGEGRGRGHRHR… OK, now that your heart is restarted, let’s talk about how the Tampa Bay Lightning held off the Pittsburgh Penguins 1-0 in Game 7 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal.
As expected, the Penguins were relentless in the third period, forechecking very aggressively and pinning the Lightning in their own end for what seemed like minutes on end. Tampa Bay helped them out by not mounting a serious offensive threat for the entire period, and several times failing to get the puck deep into the Penguins end of the ice while trying to clear the zone. They even took a pair of bad penalties — a too many men on the ice bench minor, and a slashing penalty on Nate Thompson with only 1:33 remaining in the game. But even with goalie Marc-Andre Fleury pulled after the Thompson penalty to give Pittsburgh a 6-on-4 advantage, the Penguins were unable to get a shot past Dwayne Roloson, and the Lightning survived… barely.
Roloson recorded his first shutout of the playoffs, stopping 14 shots in the third period and 36 overall. He is now 6-0 in his career when his team has faced elimination, and he helped the Lightning move to 3-0 in franchise history in Game 7’s. At the other end, Fleury made 22 saves, only allowing the one goal to Sean Bergenheim in the second period.
The Lightning have won their first playoff series since raising the Stanley Cup in 2004, and they also recorded their first comeback from a 3-1 deficit to win a series. Next up in the second round are their division rivals, the Washington Capitals, with whom the Lightning have had some rather chippy games over the last couple of seasons. There wasn’t much hate quotient for a Pittsburgh team missing its two best players, but this Lightning-Capitals matchup could make up for it and then some. The series will kick off from the Verizon Center in Washington on Friday night at 7:00pm Eastern time.