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Tuesday April 26, 2011 2:20 am

Lightning and Penguins draw even after Game 6




Posted by Adrien Griffin Categories: Athletes, NHL, Playoffs

Penguins vs LightningAs the season wound down, it became clear that, barring some extravagant scenario, The Pittsburgh Penguins would face the Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round of the NHL playoffs, and home ice advantage would be the only prize worth playing for. That honor went to Pittsburgh, who finished a mere three points ahead of the Lightning in the regular season. It turns out that those three points in the regular season meant a lot, as Tampa Bay has forced a winner-takes-all game at the Consol Energy Center on Wednesday night.

Pittsburgh appeared to have the series well in hand, going up three games to one, but after being routed 8-2 in Game 5, Pittsburgh couldn’t find the scoring touch, managing to put only two wrist shots past Lightning netminder Dwayne Roloson in a 4-2 loss on Monday night. Roloson played spectacularly, stopping 27 shots in the win, including a trio of saves in a one-second span early in the third period helped preserve a 2-2 tie. 30 seconds later, Steve Downie scored the game winner to go along with two assists, giving him six points in the series.

In the absence of both Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, not only do the Penguins look remarkably average in their attempt to win a second Stanley Cup in three years, but they also don’t appear to have any solid leadership guiding them. They’ve shown glimpses of brilliance, but turnovers and defensive scrambling have led to numerous Tampa Bay scoring chances. They can’t rely on Marc-Andre Fleury to turn in a great game every night while only providing two goals of support.

Game 6 was the first in which the team that scored first did not get the win. The Lightning have now outscored Pittsburgh 21-14 in the series, but only have four goals in their three losses. The key to winning Game 7 in Pittsburgh will be to put as many shots as they can on Fleury. As the Lightning’s goal total piles up, the Penguins have looked worse and worse. They’ve already given up seven goals while shorthanded. If they want to stand a chance on home ice, each player will have to turn in his best performance in the series; otherwise it’s off to the golf courses and another disappointing early exit for the 2009 Stanley Cup champions.

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