Tampa Bay Lightning
7:00 p.m., St. Pete Times Forum
The Penguins try for the second time to wrap up the series in Tampa Bay when they face the Lightning at the St. Pete Times Forum. Tampa came out and put the smackdown on Pittsburgh in game five and left no doubt that they wanted to complete the comeback and move on to the second around. Simone Gange, Steve Stamkos and Pavel Kubina each registered two goals as the Penguins spotted the visitors a touchdown.
Wasn't pretty, but in the grand scheme of things it is only one game. We can get all worked up and talk about Tampa Bay coming back, but the last time the Lightning won (a 5-1 victory in CONSOL in game two) the Penguins bounced back and took two straight games in Tampa Bay to take complete control of the series. If the Penguins win this game tonight then the loss in game five is a moot point and nobody will really discuss it again. It is what it is.
For the Penguins to win tonight they will have to be much more physical in front of the nets and really clamp down with the top two pairs. Stamkos kind of "woke up" and if he is going to perform to that level then it is going to be even tougher on a defense that already tries to lock down Mary St. Louis.
Keeping the Lightning off the power play didn't really work too well in game five. The Lightning got seven power play chances and cashed in on four of them. That isn't going to cut it. If the Lightning even get five power play chances I don't have a real good feeling about the Penguins in this one. Everyone wants to talk about how bad the Penguins penalty kill unit has been in this series, and while that is true you need to give credit where credit is due. Tampa Bay has a dynamic power play and when given the chance they will beat you.
If there is one thing I really don't want to see is the series come back to Pittsburgh for a game seven. Anything can happen in a game seven and with the way the playoffs have went this year I would be very uncomfortable with having to play that game in Pittsburgh. Coming out and getting the first goal and establishing that they are not going to be rolled over like they were in Pittsburgh.
It has to be comforting to know that the Penguins are a good bounce back team. Marc Andre Fleury is one of the best in the league following a rough start and they are going to need him, and the defense, to play big. This game is going to need to be low scoring because lets face it, the Penguins don't blow up the bulbs on the score board. We should know early if MAF is on his game and if he is that will bode very well for this Penguins team.
Tampa Bay will be fired up and desperate again so it will be interesting to see what they bring early on and what happens if they fall behind early.
Previous Series Games:
Game 1 - Pittsburgh 3, Tampa Bay 0
Game 2 - Tampa Bay 5, Pittsburgh 1
Game 3 - Pittsburgh 3, Tampa Bay 2
Game 4 - Pittsburgh 3, Tampa Bay 2 (2 OT)
Game 5 - Tampa Bay 8, Pittsburgh 2
The Penguins probables
James Neal - Mark Letestu - Alexei Kovalev
Chris Kunitz - Jordan Staal- Tyler Kennedy
Pascal Dupuis - Max Talbot - Chris Conner
Mike Rupp - Craig Adams - Aaron Asham
Kris Letang - Brooks Orpik
Paul Martin - Zbynek Michalek
Matt Niskanen - Ben Lovejoy
Marc Andre Fleury
For the Lightning:
Simon Gagne - Vincent Lecavalier - Teddy Purcell
Ryan Malone - Steven Stamkos - Martin St Louis
Steve Downie - Dominic Moore - Sean Bergenheim
Adam Hall - Nate Thompson
Victor Hedman - Pavel Kubina
Matt Lundin - Eric Brewer
Brett Clark - Mattias Ohlund
Marc Andre Bergeron
The Playoff Stats: