The last (and only) time the Penguins and Lightning met in the Playoffs was in Round 1 of the 2011 playoffs.
The narrative of that series was a little different.
At the time Pittsburgh would find itself without two of its brightest stars, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.
Malkin was recovering from knee surgery after a collision with Sabres defenseman Tyler Myers on February 4 that lead to some serious damage.
And Crosby, was dealing with concussion issues after sustaining back to back head shots earlier in the year.
The Penguins were counting on the “character players” to step up in the superstars absence, with a few of them answering the call.
However, it would be an unlikely “hero” that would lead to the demise of Pittsburgh’s 2010-2011 season.
The Penguins met a goal-tender finding his stride and hell-bent on redemption– Dwayne Roloson. (Roloson suffered a third degree sprain of his MCL in Game 1 of the '06 Finals and missed the duration of that series.) Tampa Bay would ride his hot streak all the way to the 7th game of the Eastern Conference Final.
While we wait for the series to unfold. Here is little recap of each game.
The Pens won 3 – 0 on goals from Alexi Kovalev, Aaron Asham and Chris Kunitz (EN). Marc- Andre Fleury made 32 saves for the shut-out.
GAME 2 – Pittsburgh
The Lightning returned the favour by shelling the Penguins 5-1 to knot the series at 1 a piece.
The lone Penguins goal scored by Craig Adams.
Marc-Andre Fleury made 16 saves on 20 shots faced for the loss.
Game 3 – Tampa Bay
The Penguins squeaked out a narrow 3-2 victory after letting a 2 -0 lead dissolve.
Tyler Kennedy (Letang, Orpik) potted the eventual game winner at 2:43 of third,only 31 seconds after Martin St. Louis tied the game up.
Other Penguins goal scorers were Max Talbot and Aaron Asham. Marc-Andre Fleury made 25 saves.
Another 3-2 win for the Penguins.
Pittsburgh would once again surrender a 2 goal lead, holding a one-goal advantage until 16:43 of the third period.
Pittsburgh would pepper Lightning goaltender Dwyane Roloson with 53 shots during the course of the game and into overtime.
Eventually, a shot from James Neal (Staal and Martin) found the back of the net ending the game at 3:38 of the 2nd overtime to give the Penguins a 3-1 series lead.
The other Penguins goal scorers were Tyler Kennedy and Aaron Asham.
Game 5 – Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh hoped to close the series out in front of the home crowd.
However, Tampa had a much different plan, winning the contest 8-2.
The Lightning scored 6 unanswered goals on the Pens, chasing Fleury (making 10 saves on 14 shots) from the net and continuing their assault on Brent Johnson (who would also surrender 4 goals on 11 shots) who did not fair much better.
Special teams also posed an issue for the Pens as they gave up 4 goals on the power-play.
Michael Rupp and Chris Conner were the Penguins goal scorers.
Game 6 – Tampa
Another chance for the Pens to close out the series. Tampa would claim the “W” with a 4-2 victory.
Pascal Dupuis opened the scoring for the Penguins at 8:23 of the first period as Pittsburgh would surrender the next two goals to Tampa (Purcell and Bergenheim).
Jordan Staal would square the game up at 3:48 of the third only to see Future Penguin- Steve Downie scoring the game winner at 4:55 of the third period and ex–Penguin Ryan Malone adding the insurance marker at 9:34.
The table was set for Game 7 in the ‘Burgh.
Game 7 – Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh pelted Roloson with 36 shots but would find themselves on losing end of the game, as Sean Bergenheim scored the only goal at 5:41 of the second period.
This would be the second season in a row Pittsburgh would lose a game 7 on home ice.
Thanks for reading and LET’S GO PENS!