Thursday, May 26, 2016

Nothing like Game 7

By: MF, 

Tonight is the all important, exciting, and nerve-racking Game Seven of the Eastern Conference Finals where the Pittsburgh Penguins will battle the Tampa Bay Lightning at Consol Energy Center. This pivotal game will determine who advances to the Stanley Cup Final to face the San Jose Sharks and who has their season come to an end.

For this game, the Penguins will have to play a full 60-minute game. This may seem like a no-brainer, but the Penguins have been known to lapses in their play as they gain a lead. Last game, the Penguins roared to a 3-0 win and in the last 20 minutes, they allowed the Lightning to get back into things as they scored two goals to make it 3-2. However, they did push back and end up with the win. Tonight, they need to keep the pressure on the Lightning throughout the game and now allow them to have any chances.

Head Coach Mike Sullivan’s main message to the team, embraced the moment and challenge. He also said to play the right way, play to their strengths, and be themselves. To show how far the Penguins have come since Sullivan took over, on December 14th, 2014, they were ninth in the Eastern and 15th in the League. Since then they have 93 points in 71 games, which leads all National Hockey League (NHL) teams. Also, the Penguins have 30 home goals that leads all teams. They have won 24 of 36 home games when Sullivan has been behind the bench with goals against average/per game of 2.56 and goals/per game average of 3.50.

Furthermore, the Penguins offense needs to keep putting up the numbers and keeping the Lightning pinned in their own zone. Sidney Crosby has scored three game-winning goals in this series and is the second Penguin to achieve that total in a playoff series. Jaromir Jagr holds the franchised record with 14 and Mario Lemieux is second with 11 game-winning goals in Penguins playoff history. Now Evgeni Malkin enters the game tonight with a four-game point streak (one goal, three assists, and four points). Also, Patric Hornqvist has scored all seven of his goals at home this spring. As for the lethal HBK line, Phil Kessel has five points (three goals and two assists), this year, in two home elimination games. While Carl Hagelin has played a team-high seven Game Seven games and he is 6-1 in such games. With all this offense, the Penguins need to keep putting pucks on net and good things will happen.

On defense, Matt Murray has 10 playoff wins and stopped 28 of 30 shots he faced in Game Six. He is the first rookie goalie in Penguins history to register a win with the team facing an elimination in the postseason. Even with Murray getting the job done, the Penguins need to box the Lightning out and give Murray a clear eye-line of sight.

This game will be a nail bitter, but the Penguins can get the job done if they stick to what they do best. Use their speed, pressure, fire everything on net, and never let up. Lets Go Pens!

Roster update for Lightning: Steven Stamkos will return to the lineup for the Lightning

 The Pens lineup is as follows:



Murray in the net! 

Play by Play
PENS 2 Lightning 1

3rd Period

0:10 - Rust seems to get an empty netter, but it's ruled a no goal.

1:00 - Lightning with an empty net.

2:42 - Consol is going crazy.

4:26 - Stralman labors to the bench and is in some discomfort.

6:13 - Sheary gets a chance, but Vasilevskiy makes the save.

7:22 - Power play ends for Pens. Murray with a huge stretch pad save on Boyle!

9:22 - Pens getting a power play as Kucherov is nabbed for delay of game.

9:41 - This is an intense period.

10:23 - Murray with a huge save with two Lightning right on top of him.

12:41 - Bonino is back.

13:02 - The Pens get a chance to cycle the puck in the offensive zone. Rust is hungry for that third one, but Vasilevskiy has other ideas.

13:55 - Lightning have been pressuring the Pens in the offensive zone. Pens withstanding the storm, so far.

14:48 - Malkin is now centering Hagelin and Kessel.

16:29 - Lightning get some sustained pressure. Bonino blocks a shot and goes down. He is helped off the ice and heads down the runway.

18:34 - Rust has a slight breakaway, but is being hounded the whole time. Vasilevskiy makes the pad save.

20:00 - We are back for the third period! The Pens have to keep pressuring, play smart, and keep the Lightning pinned in their own zone! Lets Go Pens!

2nd Period
0:00 - Second period horn sounds and the Pens have the 2-1 lead!

1:06 - Power play for the Pens comes to an end.

1:24 - The puck bounces around the front of the net and Kessel has a wide open net, but can;t get a stick in the loose puck.

2:47 - Pens power play for 1:40.

3:05 - 19 seconds of 4 on 4 hockey. Then power play for Pens as Hedman sits for slashing.  

3:06 - Drouin is set free.

3:31 - Stamkos gets a breakaway chance, but Murray shuts the door on him.

4:47 - Now Letang is sent to the sin bin for tripping. 4 on 4 hockey for 1:41.

5:06 - The Pens are head back onto the power play as Drouin sits for holding.

5:37 - Power play ends for the Pens.

5:38 - Schultz fires a shot on net and Vasilevskiy makes the save. Sheary tries to put in the rebound, but Hedman blocks. The Pens crash the net, but Vasilevskiy is able to cover for the whistle.

7:37 - The Pens have been buzzing in the offensive zone. Callahan will now head to the sin bin for high sticking and the Pens head onto the power play.

9:54 - RUST SCORES! Lovejoy intentionally misses the net to have the puck rebound off the back boards! Rust jumps in to get the loose puck and jam it past Vasilevskiy! 2-1 Pens

10:24 - Drouin scores. Drouin enters the zone, holds, gets space, and snaps a shot high over the glove of Murray. 1-1 tie game.

11:57 - Fehr gets a chance in tight and his backhander is gobbled up by Vasilevskiy.

13:36 - Crosby is flying on the ice. He is on a whole other level. Vasilevskiy has done a good job of keeping hi from scoring, but not sure if he can keep that up. Just unreal.

15:05 - 4 on 4 hockey is over. Crosby and Kessel had some great chances on net. It's unreal...they almost made it 2-0.

17:05 - More 4 on 4 hockey. Cole sits for elbowing and Paquette for roughing.

17:57 - Crosby slaps a hard shot just over the net.

18:01 - RUST SCORES! Kuntiz finds Rust driving center and makes a pass over to him! Rust rifles one past the glove of Vasilevskiy! 1-0 Pens

20:00 - Time for the second period! The Pens have to keep up the pressure, put shots on net, and get to the rebounds! Lets Go Pens!

1st Period
0:00 - First period ends and things are scoreless.

0:33 - Hornqvist with a perfectly timed block.

2:26 - Rust with a backhander that just goes wide of the net.

3:10 - Solid save by Murray, who holds for a whistle.

4:07 - Malkin gets space in the slot area, but his shot goes high over the net.

6:03 - Shots are 5-4 in favor of the Pens.

8:15 - Crosby gets in tight and lets go of a wicked backhander, but Vasilevskiy is able to kick it out.

9:23 - Letang with a drive that is stopped by Vasilevskiy and Lightning are able to clear the rebound out of harms way.

10:37 - Power play chance for the Pens is over.

11:08 - Pens power play time for 31 seconds as Malkin is set free.

12:37 - 4 on 4 hockey for 1:29 as Boyle is called for slashing.

13:08 - First power play of the game will go to the Lightning as Malkin sits for interference.

13:32 - Fast pace to start this one.

14:55 - Hornqvist gets the first shot of the game. Puck going back and forth.

17:42 - Namestnikov gets a chance down the wing, but Maatta with great stick work to break up his chance.

20:00 - The puck has dropped on Game Seven of the Eastern Conference Finals! The Pens need to come out with speed, pressure, and never let up! Lets Go Pens! 

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