The NHL is starting to become like March Madness. Okay, it is a best-of-seven series instead of single elimination, but the Stanley Cup Playoffs are still fun to watch. What a great start to the NHL postseason. There were four game 7’s, and nine consecutive days of which one game had gone into overtime. Oh, by the way, the nine consecutive days of overtime was a new NHL record. Who knows what to expect in the second round? What we do know is that teams need their star players. Just look what happened to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Game 7 Breakdowns:
How we arrived here:
The Pittsburgh Penguins suffered a serious blow before the series began. Their two best players Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, who are also two of the best in all of hockey, were injured. Crosby suffered a concussion, while Malkin suffered a knee injury. The Tampa Bay Lightning looked to take advantage of this opportunity. In game one, Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury looked like the Fleury that led the Penguins to the Stanley Cup, as he shut out the Lightning in a 3-0 victory. The Lightning answered the Penguins in game two with a 5-1 victory. Lightning goaltender Dwayne Roloson made 35 saves, and captain Vincent Lecavalier’s power play goal 6:53 into the game proved to be the game-winner. In game three, the Penguins won a close contest by the score of 3-2. Martin St. Louis tied the game at two for the Lightning early in the third period. Then thirty-one seconds later, Tyler Kennedy scored the game-winner for the Penguins. Game four would be the most exciting game of the series. Double overtime was needed to determine the winner of this game. Sean Bergenheim of the Tampa Bay Lightning tied the game at two after sending a wrist shot past Fleury with 3:17 left in the third period. Then, 3:38 into the second overtime period, James Neal blew the puck past Roloson to give the Penguins a 3-1 series lead. The Lightning needed to win out in order to advance to the second round. In game five, the Lightning piled up 8 goals against the Penguins in an 8-2 rout. The Lightning’s star player Steven Stamkos finally provided a spark by scoring his first two goals of the series, and assisting on another goal. Simon Gagne and Pavel Kubina also had two goals apiece in the 8-2 beating. Game six was a much harder contest for the Lightning, but Tampa Bay scored two goals in the third to win 4-2. The Lightning had all of the momentum. Could they pull off the comeback?
Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Dwayne Roloson was 5-0 in games facing elimination coming into this game. They hoped he would remain undefeated. Penguins fans thought they were watching a Pittsburgh Steelers game; it was low scoring. Actually, there was only one goal scored. In the second period, Sean Bergenheim scored on a wrist shot to give the Lightning a 1-0 lead. That was all Tampa Bay needed, as Roloson played the game of his life, and blanked the Pittsburgh Penguins. Roloson is now 6-0 when facing elimination, and now he will have to face Alexander Ovechkin and the top-seeded Washington Capitals.