Luckily, the penalty kill is still solid as the Penguins began the game with Paul Martin taking an interference penalty just 39 seconds into the game. The Penguins killed it off, but could not escape the Lightning taking an early lead just a couple of minutes later. Steve Downie retrieved the puck with a pileup in front of the net, where Mike Rupp was sitting in front of Marc-Andre Fleury's left pad. Downie sent a soft backhander that Fleury could not reach and the puck snuck into the corner of the net to give Tampa Bay a 1-0 lead. Martin St. Louis expanded the lead to 2-0 when he came streaking down the right side and snuck a perfectly placed shot on the short side of Fleury just a few minutes later.
The Penguins then received 2 powerplay chances over the next 5 minutes, but could not convert anything. They had difficulty getting and retaining the puck in the zone during each powerplay. Even once they had possession, the powerplay looked lifeless as players stood in their positions and created no passing lanes or good chances. It was almost as if the powerplay was so shocked that they made it into the zone that they were stunned and did not know what to do. The 2 missed chances put the Pens on a 3 for 62 stretch (4.8%) to end the period.
|I found the problem...the Pens powerplay diagram|
The second period started off completely with the Penguins. They had the first 8 shots of the period and didn't allow a shot on Fleury until half way through the period. The period was bookended by Penguins powerplays...which were both horrendous. On the first powerplay, the Lightning managed to clear the puck 4 times. As Mike Lange said, you aren't going to score when the puck is in your own end that many times. The 2nd powerplay ended as Neal took a holding penalty towards the end of it. The Penguins again could not do anything, having difficulty even getting it past the red line. The period ended with the Lightning still up 2-0.
The Penguins finally got on the scoreboard less than 5 minutes into the 3rd period, as Mike Rupp took what appeared to be a harmless shot from the left boards that Roloson did not see because of a screen by his defenseman. The goal was Rupp's first in 14 games. The period continued on with teams getting chances at both ends. Kovalev took a bad cross-checking penalty late in the game with 4:24 left in the game, but the Penguins killed it with ease. The Pens put on a frantic effort to try and tie the game within the last minute, but could not find a way to beat Roloson.
#3 - Downie
#2 - St. Louis
#1 - Roloson
- Bob Errey made a great point (wait, what?) about Paul Martin on the powerplay. He isn't a threat to shoot and tends to just feed right or left. Tampa's penalty kill visibly shifted when he had the puck which took away space from all of the passing options, and Martin still wouldn't shoot.
- Tampa Bay clinched a playoff spot with the victory and pulled within 5 points of the Penguins. Meanwhile, the Pens missed a golden chance to gain 2 points on the Flyers, who also lost.
- Back to the powerplay woes: Tampa Bay knew we couldn't score on the powerplay and it appeared we knew that fact too. No confidence or movement with the puck. Meanwhile, Tampa Bay was sitting at the blue line knowing that we had no clue how to gain possession beyond there. This requires a drastic change before the playoffs.
- It was nice to see Rupp score, but more "secondary" (maybe tertiary at this point?) scoring is necessary. If the Kunitz-Staal-Kennedy line is neutralized, there appears to be no offense on this team. It's not going to be a hard game plan for an opposing coach.