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Deja-Vu: Penguins Force Game 7 on Thursday.

The Tampa bay Lightning headed into tonight’s game with a 6-2 record at home in the 2016 playoffs while the Pittsburgh Penguins barely have a .500 record on the road with 4-3 away from Consol Energy Center. The story of this playoff run continues to be the Lightning’s resiliency against no matter who they face.  Another story has been the play of Andrei Vasilevskiy in relief of injured starter Ben Bishop. While Vasilevskiy has given up at least 3 goals in each game he’s started. He’s made the saves that have needed to be made time and time again in this series. Unlike last season the Bolts have closed out series when the time has come.

Lightning started off the first period making a few lazy / bad moves in their defensive zone. The Penguins were able to force the Bolts to make longer passes which was an issue in a few games this series. After a mild breakdown Tyler Johnson, Victor Hedman and Jonathan Drouin were able to push into Pittsburgh’s zone. Drouin wide open puts the puck past Matt Murray, but Pittsburgh challenged that Hedman was offside as he entered the zone. After numerous minutes of deliberation by the referees they decided the Lightning were offside and disallowed the goal by Drouin.  Once again the Lighting would allow the Penguins to score late in a period. While killing off two penalties Hedman and Stralman in the box. Phil Kessel would get a lucky goal as the Penguins passed the puck in the Lighting zone extremely well before the puck bounced off Kessel’s stick and past Vasilevskiy to make it 1-0. The Bolts would continue to stay a half step behind the Penguins as the first period came to an end. The Penguins would hold a 14-4 shots on goal advantage as the teams headed into their locker rooms.

The Penguins would continue to push the Lightning into the second period. While the Lightning weren’t playing bad they definitely weren’t having a good enough game to close this series out. Just once I want this Lightning team to put together two solid games in this series. They’ve been so Jekyll and Hide it isn’t even funny. They know exactly how to beat the Penguins, but they choose to play back on their heels and not go on an all-out attack that has worked against the Penguins. Almost eight minutes into the period Kris Letang would strike and put the Penguins up 2-0. While the Pens only had five shots on net with almost five mins left in the period the Lightning were unable to get any quality shots on Murray. Almost every shot the Penguins goalie has faced has been an easy to save routine shot. There have aso been times when through the game with a few minutes left in the 2nd period the Lightning were very pass happy at times.

 

Period number three would begin how the first two should have, with the Lightning buzzing around Murray and getting shots on the Penguins rookie goalie. Through the period the Lightning did everything they should have done in the first two periods. Midway through with almost the entire period gone the Bolts had almost as many shots in the third as they had in the first and second periods and it paid off. Five minutes into the period Brian Boyle backhanded a shot that went right off Phil Kessel’s leg and gave the Lightning their first actual goal of the game. Then seven minutes later Boyle would strike yet again putting the Bolts within one goal with about seven minutes remaining in the game. While the Lightning outshot the Penguins in the final period Bryan Rust put the dagger in the hearts of Lightning fans. The Penguins would get an insurance goal when Jon Cooper pulled Vasilevskiy for the extra attacker. Nick Bonino would score the Penguins 5th and final goal of the game.

Up Next: The Lightning will head back to Pittsburgh for game seven on Thursday night.

Three Stars of the Game

3rd Star – Brian Boyle: 2 Goals that got the Lightning within striking distance.

2nd Star – Matt Murray: While he allowed two goals and only face great shots in the third he played well enough to force a final game in the series. He face 19 shots in the third period alone.

1st Star: Sidney Crosby: Played a good game and scored what turned out to be the game winning goal.

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