ECQF Game 3 recap: Pittsburgh Penguins (4) at Tampa Bay Lightning (5)


The Tampa Bay Lightning fell 3-2 to the Pittsburgh Penguins after a shaky start. Following the trend of the regular season, all of the money is in the first period; getting behind only has sub par results.

Martin St. Louis wasn't surprised by the Penguin's early surge. "We knew they were gonna come hard, knew the first ten minutes was important, and didn't manage it really well."

After falling behind 2-0 in the first six minutes of play, St. Louis turned the game around for the Bolts, rebounding off of Simon Gagne's shot to open the scoring. St. Louis' goal solved some of the earlier composure issues the Lightning struggled with, but despite the effort the Bolts couldn't beat the uphill battle.

St. Louis scored a second Lightning goal two minutes into the third period, but the tying goal was overshadowed by another from Tyler Kennedy 31 seconds later.

The Lightning lost the game in the first five minutes. With a shaky start, likely overexcited from Friday's win and being back at home (or maybe the 15,000 rally drums had something to do with it), it took a while for the Bolts to gain composure against Pittsburgh.

Details, details... Maxime Talbot opened the scoring, five minutes into the period, following ahit between Steve Downie and Ben Lovejoy behind the Fleury. Dan Byslma said to one reporter that Lovejoy defined the concept of "taking the hit to make the play," as Talbot took the puck all the way down the ice, to notch the first goal against the Lightning.

The Bolts gave up another goal 45 seconds later, when Michael Rupp brought the puck down the right side of the ice, to Arron Ashman, who brought the score to two.

Between the scoring, there was some nice elbowing that went unnoticed when Chris Kunitz elbowed Simon Gagne. Boucher was quiet about it afterwards, except for stating certainty that the league would evaluate.

St. Louis goal changed the game for the Lightning, and finally saw some composure from the Bolts. The Bolts had some strong opportunities in the second period, but were unable to change the scoreboard against.

The score settled early in the third after St. Louis tied the game with a spectacular goal at 2:12, assisted by Eric Brewer, which only evened the deficit for 31 seconds as Tyler Kennedy's goal brought the score to 3-2.

It's playoff hockey, and everyone knows that small mistakes have a major impact. "It all comes down to the smallest details," Boucher said afterwards, mistakes that include managing emotions from the start of the game, and some defensive mistakes that led to the second and third goals for Pittsburgh.

Side note: Ryan Malone left the ice early in the first period after a hit from James Neal. Boucher said afterwards the Malone is "Ok," and that regarding injuries, "they're all gonna hurt." Despite missing ten minutes of the first period, Malone came back to total 11:12 minutes of ice time, and seemed to make an appearance in every shift. The leadership that continues to emerge from the veteran players is making a difference in surprising places.

Another side note: Props to the Lightning for a really rad pre-game show - complete with Lightning and everything. The photos don't do it justice.

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