It's Game 3 and the Tampa Bay Lightning will be fancying their chances on home ice after tying the series 1-1 with a commanding 5-1 victory in the second game at Pittsburgh against the Flyers.
Game 2 saw the Tampa Bay Lightning skate out double quick after their 3-0 shutout loss in Game 1, and score three goals in the first period. They'll likely be the more confident of the two sides and have a real chance to take the series lead on home ice. After their disappointing shutout the Bolts shared out the next game's goals between five different players, while at the back Dwayne Roloson stopped 35 of 36 Penguins' shots. At the opposite end of the ice Pittsburgh's Marc-Andre Fleury managed just 16 saves on 20 shots, a huge disappointment after he made all 32 saves in Game 1.
Goals Goals Goals
The first period was all about the Bay as they coasted to a three goal lead, thanks to action from Eric Brewer, Vincent LeCavalier and Nate Thompson, but the Pittsburgh Penguins seemed to have woken up in the second period and they stopped the rot before getting a goal back thanks to a Craig Adams, just over nine minutes into the second.
The comeback cries where short-lived when Martin St. Louise got the best sort of revenge after his Game 1 on-ice dental "refurbishment" (from Zbynek Michalek, on Wednesday) scoring goal number four just before the end of the second period, re-establishing the Bolts' three goal cushion. The final period was all about defense as the goal run seemed to have dried up, until Tampa bay's Mattias Ohlund found the empty net with just two minutes left. A fifth Lightning goal wasn't just the cherry on the cake, it set a franchise playoff record for goals in regulation time. The Penguins looked out of their depth for Game 2 and will have done some serious thinking en route to Florida. "They were dangerous on the power play, we took too many penalties and made it a factor," said Penguins coach Dan Bylsma, "Our discipline and composure were not great."
Holding out for a hero
Pittsburgh are still missing the stick of Sidney Crosby especially when defense and goaltending seemed to have an open-door policy on pucks. Without Crosby, and the goals he supplies, Pittsburgh need to keep the opposition at bay (see Game 1). The Penguins do know how to win on enemy ice, they lead the League in road wins during the regular season (a franchise-record 24) and are 6-1 in their last seven Game 3 road matches. If you think that sort of history and habit will be enough to bounce the Penguins back then bet accordingly, but I feel that the Lightning will be too much for the Penguins to handle with their first home game of this series, enthused by their impressive series levelling win.
Home sweet home for Tampa Bay
It will be the first home playoff game since April 22, 2007 for Tampa bay and it's odds on to be a noisy night in the St. Pete Times Forum. The news ahead of Game 3 still spotlights the will-he / won't –he involvement of Sidney Crosby, who continues to take to the ice in morning skates, but still hasn't been cleared as match-ready. The Penguins will need to either park the team bus in front of goal down in Tampa or sort out their power plays, otherwise they could be heading home 3-1 down. In Game 2 the Penguins were 0-for-7 on the power-play and are now 0-for-13 in the series. If this series is going to be decided on the Power Play it's going to fall for the Lightning. Tampa Bay (during the regular Season) were the only Eastern Conference team with a better-than-20-percent success rate on their power play (20.5).
"When the power-play works, it gives you momentum and we had the No. 1 power-play in the conference so it needs to be one of our strengths," Tampa Bay Coach Guy Boucher said after Game 2 of the NHL playoffs. "When we get power-plays, we want goals, but if we don't get goals we want to at least keep momentum going. That's what we did on Friday -- there were times we gained momentum because we played hard with the man advantage. We want to make sure we keep that power-play mentality in 5-on-5 situations as well."
Prediction: Tampa Bay to win 3-2