Lightning (46-25-11, 103 Points, 5th East) at Penguins (49-25-8, 106 Points, 4th East)
Eastern Conference Quarterfinal: Pittsburgh leads 1-0.
Regular Season Series: The two clubs split the four-game series during the regular season, with the home team winning each contest. Tampa Bay took the first and last meetings, both at the St. Pete Times Forum, while Pittsburgh won each of the two games in between at CONSOL Energy Center.
The Big Story: Following a 3-0 loss in Game 1, the Lightning are still seeking their first postseason victory since the 2007 Stanley Cup Playoffs when they took a pair of games from the New Jersey Devils before falling four-games-to-two in the first round. For the Penguins, the status of superstar center Sidney Crosby is still uncertain. The Penguins captain has been skating with the team, but has not seen full action since being sidelined with a concussion over three months ago. Pittsburgh will also be without Evgeni Malkin, who suffered a season-ending knee injury. Despite Pittsburgh’s current injuries, as well as a number of ailments to several key Lightning forwards throughout the regular campaign, both teams put together record years. Pittsburgh finished with 49 wins and 106 points, while the Lightning tied their franchise record with 46 victories on the season and also had 103 points, which was the second-highest total in team history.
LIGHTNING – Tampa Bay will play once more in Pittsburgh tonight before returning home to host Games 3 and 4 at the St. Pete Times Forum next week. The Lightning battled hard in Game 1 on Wednesday night and held the Penguins scoreless through the first 40 minutes, thanks to the effort of Dwayne Roloson, who set a franchise playoff record for most saves in a single period with 18. The Lightning generated a number of chances throughout the night, but just couldn’t get the bounces to go their way, or solve Penguins net minder Marc-Andre Fleury, who made a number of spectacular saves. Head coach Guy Boucher was pleased with his team’s effort, as reflected in his postgame comments, but stressed the importance of playing smart and staying out of the penalty box. Tampa Bay gave Pittsburgh six power-play opportunities on the night, but was fortunate to eliminate all of its shorthanded situations.
PENGUINS – Pittsburgh attempts to take a 2-0 series lead on the Lightning tonight after winning Game 1 Wednesday at CONSOL Energy Center. With no scoring through the first two periods and without their two top offensive players, goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury stepped in and rose to the occasion. Fleury stopped all 32 shots faced en route to his fifth career shutout before getting some help from a pair of goals 18 seconds apart by Alex Kovalev and Arron Asham. Chris Kunitz then added an empty-net tally to cap the scoring and seal the 3-0 win. The Penguins, which entered the playoffs on a hot streak, have now won nine of the past 11 games including the postseason.
Who’s Hot: Tampa Bay’s Martin St. Louis has points in nine of his past 10 games including the postseason following and Vincent Lecavalier has scored a goal in four of his past five overall games played for Tampa Bay including Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal. Pittsburgh’s Brooks Orpik registered two points in Game 1 to lead all skaters and led all playoff defensemen in points entering play last night.
Injury Report: LIGHTNING – None. PENGUINS – Sidney Crosby (concussion, questionable), Evgeni Malkin (knee, out for season), Dustin Jeffrey (knee, out for season) and Matt Cooke (suspension).
Notable Quotable: “I just saw the clips on the replays, and I still can't believe he made some of those saves. He's done that in the past and he's certainly going to be tough to beat. The opportunities were there for sure, and if we stay out of the box, we'll get some more and something will stick.” – Head coach Guy Boucher, on the play of Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury and his thoughts on scoring opportunities heading into Game 2
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