Dwayne Roloson sure didn’t make it look like five years had passed since his last playoff victory.
Appearing in his first postseason since leading the Edmonton Oilers to the 2006 Stanley Cup Final, Roloson made 35 saves as the Tampa Bay Lightning avenged a Game 1 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins Friday night following a 5-1 win at the CONSOL Energy Center.
“We didn’t want to focus too much on what they do,” Lightning head coach Guy Boucher said. “We battled in Game 1 and we had to continue to get pucks on net.”
Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh, meeting for the first time in the postseason, are now even at one game apiece as the series shifts to the St. Pete Times Forum for Game 3 on Monday night.
Brewer also added a goal in the first period, which opened the scoring at 2:02 after he beat Marc-Andre Fleury to finish off a 2-on-1 rush.
Fleury, the Game 1 hero for the Pittsburgh, turned back 16 shots after earning his fifth career shutout with a 32-save effort to open the series Wednesday night.
Friday night, however, proved a much different story, as Vincent Lecavalier, Nate Thompson, Martin St. Louis and Mattias Ohlund each scored for Tampa Bay, winners in eight of their past 10 games including the final seven of the regular season.
After being held scoreless in Game 1 Wednesday night, the Lightning exploded for five goals Friday night, tying the franchise playoff record.
“We played really smart and we attacked the net,” Lecavalier said. “It feels good for sure.”
Fleury couldn’t bear all the responsibility, as the Lightning took full advantage of several Pittsburgh defensive breakdowns, some inopportune penalties and the Penguins’ ineffective power play, which was the NHL’s worst during the second half of the season. The Penguins have gone a combined 0-for-13 with the man advantage in the series after surrendering six additional opportunities Wednesday night in the quarterfinal opener.
Lecavalier doubled the lead on the power play nearly five minutes after Brewer put the game’s first tally on the board. The Lightning captain cleaned up a rebound in front of the net to beat Fleury at 6:53.
Thompson’s first career postseason goal put the Lightning up 3-0 towards the end of the opening frame. As Steve Downie skated along the right boards, he fired a shot on Fleury that deflected off the net minder’s pad and right to Thompson, who stuffed it home at 17:02.
“We made some big plays in that first period,” Brewer said. “We had some big this and Rollie made some big saves.”
Roloson turned in nearly 30 minutes of shutout hockey until Pittsburgh’s Craig Adam spoiled the Lightning goaltender’s shutout bid nine minutes into the second.
He cut the deficit to two at 9:08 after Roloson mishandled the puck behind the goal and left it for the taking, allowing the Penguins to take advantage of the broken play.
Pittsburgh’s second-period goal was the lone exception in an otherwise spectacular performance turned in by the Bolts net minder, who held strong in net following Adams’ goal as he went on to stop 14 additional shots in the third period alone.
Pittsburgh failed to convert any of its seven power-play chances on the night, despite the Lightning allowing more than a handful of opportunities - something which head coach Guy Boucher stressed following his team’s defeat in Game 1 to take less penalties.
St. Louis’ first of the postseason on the power play made it 4-1 towards the end of the second period. Stationed at the side of the net, St. Louis fired a shot on Fleury, who bobbled the puck with the glove before it found its way across the goal line with 14 seconds to play.
“Obviously it was a big goal, getting it that late in the period,” Lightning forward Sean Bergenheim said. “We weren’t quite happy with the way we played that second period, so we thought we had to do better.”
St. Louis is the team’s all-time scoring leader in the postseason with 24 goals and 50 points in 47 career playoff games.
“The atmosphere was great,” Bergenheim added. “It’s fun playing these types of games.”
Ohlund added an empty-net tally while shorthanded to end things, giving the defenseman his first postseason goal since the 2009 playoffs while with Vancouver.
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