2011 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs – First Round Series Recap
Eastern Conference Quarterfinals Game 6 - Tampa Bay 4, Pittsburgh 2 –Series tied, 3-3
Another Eastern Conference quarterfinal series will be going the distance and the league office couldn’t be happier. The Pittsburgh Penguins couldn’t be more worried, too.
Tampa Bay finally won a home playoff game and sent this series back to the Steel City for a win-or-go-golfing Game 7. What appeared to be a standard-issue five-game series has quite abruptly turned into a series in which the underdog Bolts have all the momentum in the world heading into one of the best elements of non-football professional team sports: The Game 7 crucible that produces unrivaled passion, supreme desperation, and uncovers reputations for better and worse.
Steve Downie scored to snap a third-period tie while Lighting goaltender Dwayne Roloson stopped 27 shots which helped the Tampa Bay Lightning beat Marc-Andre Fleury and the Penguins on Monday night at the St. Pete Times Forum in the Sunshine State. The Pens will have home ice in the upcoming Game 7, but it has to be noted that Tampa Bay has already won twice this postseason in Pittsburgh, including an 8-2 Game 5 blowout that began its comeback from a 3-1 deficit in the series. Moreover, the fact that Tampa Bay is getting balanced production from its lineup – and therefore not having to rely solely on Martin St. Louis for instant offense – gives the fifth seed a lot of well-founded confidence that it can send the fourth-seeded Pens to an early summer vacation in springtime.
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Pittsburgh took an early one goal lead in the first period when Pascal Dupuis beat Roloson with goal at the 8:23 mark. The Lighting, though, in a preview of what was to come, found a ready answer on a goal by Teddy Purcell at 16:36.
The only goal scored in the second period was scored by Sean Bergenheim at 5:44 and gave Tampa a 2-1 lead after two periods of hockey. Pittsburgh wouldn’t go out without a fight. They tied the game when Jordan Staal scored his first goal of the series 3:48, but that’s the last goal the Penguins would score on this night.
Mirroring their ability to punch back after Pittsburgh scored its first goal of the evening, the Lighting once again countered the Pens by scoring not too long after giving up a goal of their own. The home team went ahead for good on the aforementioned Downie goal, which was netted at 4:55, just 67 seconds after Staal’s tying tally. The icing on the cake was applied to this tilt when Ryan Malone, a former Penguin, scored at 9:34 on a breakaway slap shot that a flustered Fleury clearly was not expecting. In the Steel City on Wednesday night, the CONSOL Energy Center, in its first year of existence as a hockey arena, will get baptized with its first Game 7. The hockey world will find out just how comfortable the Penguins feel inside their new home, a home that will have many anxious houseguests in the stands. Tampa Bay is charging hard, and Pittsburgh needs to find a way to blunt the Bolts before it’s too late.
By: Matt Zemek
ProHockey-fans.com Staff Writer
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