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

The Tampa Bay Lightning fell 3-2 to the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 4, finishing after James Neal scored the final shot in the second period of overtime to seal the third playoff victory for the Pens.

It was a hard game to watch - after the first, lackluster thirty minutes, and falling behind to Pittsburgh's two point lead, the Bolts turned it around with a huge goal from Martin St. Louis, ultimately pushing the game into 23 minutes of overtime, only to take the loss.

The biggest vote of sympathy goes to Dwayne Roloson, who made 50 saves, but lost on Neal's shot from outside of the right faceoff circle. Roloson said afterwards that the shot caught him off guard, but made no excuses for the failing to save the shot.

But if the period-by-period play of the Lightning is any indicator of something bigger - the inability to regain the lead after getting behind - the hardest thing to swallow is how difficult, how slim, the chances are of regaining stamina against Pittsburgh's 3-1 series lead.

The Lightning unraveled in the first thirty minutes of play, falling behind after the Pens took the lead eight minutes into the first with Tyler Kennedy's power play goal, which railed past Mike Lundin and through Roloson to open the scoring.

It wasn't just opportunities missed, it's that opportunities weren't made. The first thirty minutes weren't playoff hockey. The Bolts had no momentum, no desire, no edge. After one period Pittsburgh doubled the Lightning effort in shots and hits; after two periods, the Lightning only totaled 14 shots to the Penguin's 30.

Arron Asham scored two minutes into the second, rebounding off of Ben Lovejoy's shot to raise the score 2-0.

And just as everyone was falling asleep, St. Louis made a killer goal against Marc Andre Fleury, battling Lovejoy down the right side of the ice to open the Lightning scoring with less than three minutes left in the second period.

Of St. Louis, who now totals 4 goals in this series, Boucher said, "He's doing everything he can. He never looks like he's tired, he never looks like he's down, he's just a machine out there."

Unable to score on two power play opportunities, the Lightning finally evened the score at 16:43, when Sean Bergenheim capitalized found the puck in a scrum at the front of the net.

The Lightning kept their edge through the first overtime period, totaling 8 shots to the Penguin's 11, but fell through the second overtime period when after Neal's shot sealed the win for Pittsburgh within three minutes.

Eric Brewer and St. Louis led the ice time for the Lightning, totaling 34:51 and 34:48, respectively. This is in comparison with Pittsburgh TOI leaders Brooks Orpik and Kris Letang, who finished with 40:32 and 38:21.

Judging from the slow start, it seems like another case of having difficult managing emotions. Once again, the Lightning were unable to get their heart into the game soon enough. The tricky part is watching them get this far, but be unable to find the skill early enough in the game.

"It's gonna be an emotional roller coaster and you've got to make sure you handle it the right way," Vincent Lecavalier said afterwards. "There's nothing you can do now; it's 3-1 and we're going back to their building."

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