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Lightning (46-25-11, 103 Points, 5th East) at Penguins (49-25-8, 106 Points, 4th East)
Eastern Conference Quarterfinal: Pittsburgh leads 3-2.
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: Facing elimination and the possibility of a potential first-round exit, the Lightning enjoyed a statement game in Game 5 Saturday in Pittsburgh to force the sixth game of the best-of-seven series at the St. Pete Times Forum tonight. Tampa Bay had one of its best offensive displays of the season in the 8-2 victory, as eight different Bolts finished the afternoon with at least two points apiece. With a win tonight, the Lightning are looking to send the series back to Pittsburgh on Wednesday in what would be just the third Game 7 in team postseason history. The road team in the series, however, as won each of the last four meetings.
LIGHTNING – Tampa Bay will fight for its playoff lives for the second straight time tonight as the series shifts back to the St. Pete Times Forum for Game 6. If necessary, the team will return to Pittsburgh for the Game 7 finale Wednesday at the CONSOL Energy Center. Instead of having a rebound game in Game 5 Saturday, the Lightning made a statement with an 8-2 victory, while chasing starting goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury from the net in the process. It was evident Fleury was in for a long afternoon after Simon Gagne scored and Steven Stamkos tallied an additional goal just minutes later, giving the young star his first career postseason goal. Gagne, Stamkos and Pavel Kubina finished the day with two goals each, while Vincent Lecavalier and Dominic Moore also had goals. The Bolts special teams play was superb as well, as they converted four of seven power play chances and also eliminated all seven shorthanded situations. The victory also set numerous franchise records, including for most goals scored in a playoff game, largest margin of victory and most power-play goals in a game.
PENGUINS – Pittsburgh couldn’t close out the series Saturday afternoon on home ice after dropping the Game 5 contest 8-2 to the Lightning, but will earn another chance tonight in Tampa Bay. Fans in attendance at the CONSOL Energy Center saw a much different Penguins team than they did throughout the first four games of the series. Marc-Andre Fleury, who at times appeared to be unbeatable, was chased early in the game after stopping just 10 of 14 shots in just over a single period of work. The Penguins also had numerous chances to put goals on the board with the man advantage, earning seven chances on the night, but a superb Lightning penalty kill shut them down in what has become routine in the series, as Pittsburgh has converted on just one power-play chance of 24 attempts. It appeared the Penguins were destined to be shutout until late in the game when Mike Rupp and Chris Conner scored consecutive goals, but it was all the team could muster as it was forced to play at least one more game before moving on.
Who’s Hot: Tampa Bay’s Martin St. Louis has scored goals in three out of the past four games and has points in all but one match of the series. Captain Vincent Lecavalier also has two goals and three assists in the first five games of the playoffs and Simon Gagne has amassed six points through the first-round series. Pittsburgh’s Arron Asham has scored goals for the Penguins in three of the five games and defenseman Kris Letang has four assists in the series as well for Pittsburgh.
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 want to be part of this team's success in the playoffs, and prove to myself and my teammates that I can play in these pressure situations. I just felt that each game I have been getting better and better. It wasn't showing up on the score sheet, but I noticed it, the coaching staff noticed it and it was nice to get rewarded, especially in a game of this magnitude.” – Steven Stamkos, after scoring his first two career postseason goals in the Lightning’s 8-2 rout of the Penguins in Game 5
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