NHL Playoff Game Night: 4/13/11 Lightning at Penguins

Welcome to the playoffs.

TB-0
PIT-3

Pittsburgh Leads the Series 1-0

Dwayne Roloson allowed 2 goals on 39 shots for the loss. I thought he played brilliantly, on the whole, and deserved better.

First Period
NO SCORING

Second Period
NO SCORING

Third Period
06:05 PIT Kovalev (1), Neal (1), Martin (1)
06:23 PIT Asham (1), Letang (1), Orpik (1)
19:18 PIT Kunitz (1), Staal (1), Orpik (2)(EN)

Good:
The Lightning had a decent first period to get settled into the game. I had some fear the team, with so many inexperience players, might be down 2-0 or so after the opening frame, but they outchanced Pittsburgh and had the territorial edge. That's why losing control of the game for the next 35 minutes after the first period stings. I also thought the Lightning, in the final 5 minutes, proved they could crack Pittsburgh's defense if they could up their intensity level. I'm not buying the Penguin mystique about their defense or the infallibility of Fleury, shutout or no. The Lightning were getting the chances they wanted, including a wide open Stamkos one-timer from the left wing circle. They missed the net too much. If they readjust their bomb sights, I think they'll start to score goals.

Bad:
The second period was horrific. No forecheck, and they were on their heels all 20 minutes. Mind you, then the refs miss two plays that probably should've been 4 minute high-sticking calls, that has a big effect on momentum and offensive flow. However, the Lightning just did not generate any forecheck from the 21st minute through the 54th minute of the game. The only way Pittsburgh wins this series if Crosby and Malkin stay out is if the Lightning allow themselves to be outworked and outhit. The Lightning let the Pens outhit them in the first period, but ended up winning that stat 44-35, but it wasn't translating into puck possession or Pens turnovers because the lion's share of those hits were coming in the Lightning's third of the rink. Honorable mention to the Lightning making Aaron Asham look like Mario Lemieux on the Pens' insurance goal. Roli did get played like a fiddle on that play, and Brewer looked a little silly. That was a bad blemish on an otherwise great game by those two players.

Ugly:
Pavel Kubina. What a horrible mess of a game. Losing his stick and losing Kovalev on the first goal honestly was among the least of his sins tonight. I was pretty impressed with Hedman and Brewer, and I thought the rest of the group was pretty game. Kubina was just a train wreck. 1 stupid penalty. 1 stupid play that should've been a penalty that eventually ended up in the net. 3 bad turnovers and 2 of them were the kind that really annoy me out of a defenseman when they ring it around blindly to a waiting, open point man. I don't expect that kind of play out of a veteran. Here's hoping he rises to the occassion as the series goes on. I suppose in 2003, he and the whole team stunk on toast in the first couple of games against the Caps before they came back to roll Washington the rest of the way.

I expect more urgency in the next game, and if the Lightning bear down and finish like they can, they should have a strong Game Two. This series, I have a feeling, is going to be a marathon and not a sprint. The Lightning do have a few things to build off of, and if they win the next game they're right where they want to be going into Game Three.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.