2011 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs – First Round Series Recap
Eastern Conference Quarterfinals Game 5 - Tampa Bay 8, Pittsburgh 2 – Penguins lead series, 3-2
Welcome to the playoffs, Steven Stamkos… and not a moment too soon.
Stamkos’s postseason coming-out party came at the perfect time to keep his Lightning alive in their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series against the Pittsburgh Penguins. In an NHL playoff season that has witnessed only two teams advance to the second round in under six games, Pittsburgh joined the roster of teams that failed to claim a clinching fifth game.
Yes, before Los Angeles stayed alive by winning Game 5 on the road at San Jose, and just two days after Chicago won Game 5 on the road at Vancouver, Tampa Bay rolled into an enemy lair and pulled off a Game 5 masterpiece to extend its own life for at least one more game. Stamkos led the way. The young and highly-heralded talent scored his first two NHL playoff goals and the Lightning made a statement as they avoided elimination with a shocking six-goal victory over Pittsburgh that was far more lopsided than the 5-1 beatdown Tampa Bay registered in Game 2 of this series. Tampa Bay hasn’t been able to win a single home game against the Pens in this clash, but two road triumphs have been enough to keep the Bolts alive through a Game 6 situation at minimum.
The Lightning got off to an unbelievable start; they scored the first seven goals of the game. Simon Gagne got the first goal for Tampa Bay at the 16:57 mark and then Stamkos first career playoff goal came just 86 seconds later at the 17:43 mark. The Lightning went to the dressing room with a two goal lead after the first 20 minutes of competition.
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Things got much worse for Pittsburgh thereafter. The Lightning continued to score at will in the second period. Vincent Lecavalier added a goal just 1:55 into the second period. Gagne added his second goal of the game at the 5:31 mark and then Stamkos chipped in with his second goal of the game on the man advantage at the seven-minute mark of the period. It was the first of three straight power play goals for the Lighting, who turned this tilt into a legitimate laugher.
The Lightning took a six goal lead when Pavel Kubina scored on the power play at the 2:54 mark of the third period. The third straight power play goal, which doubled as the second straight man-advantage tally, was scored by Kubina at the 5:45 mark of the third.
Then, finally Pittsburgh got onto the score sheet with two straight goals. Mike Rupp scored at 6:36 and then Chris Conner at the 8:22 mark. However, those were utterly empty and cosmetic changes to the ledger sheet. Dominic Moore scored one final power play goal for Tampa Bay and sent the Lightning home for a Game Six on Monday night.
We’ll see if they can actually win a home game for a change.
By: Matt Zemek
ProHockey-fans.com Staff Writer
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