2011 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs – First Round Series Recap
Eastern Conference Quarterfinals Game 4 - Pittsburgh 3, Tampa Bay 2 (2OT) – Penguins lead series, 3-1
This playoff run for the Pittsburgh Penguins is turning into quite a story. The boys from Western Pennsylvania won another game on a goal scored by someone not named Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin.
The locals in Pittsburgh, a steel town built on elbow grease and hard work, love blue-collar athletes and stories of perseverance. In that case, these particular Penguins are very much cut in the cloth of the city they represent. Stripped of their high-scoring superstars due to injuries, the Pens are being forced to get by on sheer grit and work ethic, and after four games of postseason play in 2011, the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference is making the grade. Forced to duel for more than 80 minutes, the Penguins were able to hold down the Tampa Bay Lightning once again and move to the brink of a first-round victory.
Why does Pittsburgh enjoy such a favorable position? James Neal, another grunt-guy who never hogs the headlines, netted the game winner 3:38 into double overtime to give the Penguins a commanding 3-1 series lead in this Eastern Conference quarterfinal collision with the thoroughly frustrated Lightning. Pittsburgh goalie Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 29 shots - 12 of which were in overtime - and as a result Pittsburgh is now one game from advancing to the Eastern Conference semifinals. Game 5 is Saturday in Pittsburgh, with the Lightning needing a victory to keep their season alive.
Dwayne Roloson had 50 saves for Tampa Bay.
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Pittsburgh started off the game with the lone goal of the first period on a goal by Tyler Kennedy at the 8:14 mark. The Penguins just added a goal just 2:39 into the second period on a goal by Arron Asham.
Tampa Bay finally got on the score sheet on a goal by no one else but Martin St. Louis. It was his fourth of the series, and it cut Pittsburgh’s lead in half heading into the third period. There are many reasons Pittsburgh owns a 3-1 series lead, but St. Louis is certainly not one of them; he’s held up his part of the bargain for the Bolts.
Sean Bergenheim tied the game at 2-all for Tampa Bay with a goal at 16:43 minute mark and sent the game into overtime. Neither team was able to muster a goal in the first extra period, however, and the headed into a second overtime. Tampa Bay had a power play late in the first OT session, but the Pens summarily snuffed out that five-alarm threat.
After surviving that power play, Pittsburgh clearly looked more confident in the second extra stanza. That’s when Neal gathered a loose puck along the boards and sent the winning shot past Lightning goalie Dwayne Roloson, who had 50 saves for Tampa Bay and performed admirably under pressure. In the second overtime of a playoff game, however, it only takes one shot to make a difference. Neal found a chink in Roloson’s armor, and now the 2009 Stanley Cup champs are smelling blood against the Bolts.
By: Matt Zemek
ProHockey-fans.com Staff Writer
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