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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Speaking of hope, how about those Penguins?

Despite missing their two best offensive players for months, the Pens keep finding ways to win.

From the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:

Penguins get goals from role players, win 3-2

TAMPA, Fla. -- The power of these Penguins is that they defy logic.

This is how they've taken a 2-1 lead in a best-of-seven Eastern Conference quarterfinal playoff series against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

They are minus-4 on special teams, having not scored on the power play and allowing the Lightning four advantage markers.

Three scoring-line forwards have scored, but only right wing Tyler Kennedy has actually beaten Lightning goalie Dwayne Roloson with a shot.

Of course, that shot provided the winning goal Monday night in a 3-2 victory at St. Pete Times Forum -- a victory that reclaimed home-ice advantage for the Penguins, who can take full command of the series with a win here Wednesday night.

Defenseman Brooks Orpik, who along with right wing Arron Asham is tied for the team lead in series points with three, didn't sound sure after Game 3 if the Penguins can keep winning with a power play that can't score and a penalty kill that is "not doing all so well."

"Given that, anyone would take a 2-1 (series) lead," he said.

The Penguins took this lead by flipping the script on the Lightning, which raced to a Game 2 victory Friday night at Consol Energy Center by bolting to a 3-0 lead in the opening period.

The Penguins were ahead, 2-0, less than seven minutes into Game 3.

Asham converted a 2-on-1 feed from forward Mike Rupp into a 2-0 lead at 6:31 -- just 45 seconds after forward Max Talbot capped off a 3-on-2 rush by whipping a puck behind Roloson.

"They did exactly what we did to them in Game 2," Lightning left wing Simon Gagne said. "They came out harder. Playoff hockey, when you score the first goal, it is huge."

It is in this series, with the team that scores first going 3-0.

Quick-strike goals have been a way of life for the Penguins against the Lightning.

Asham is part of a group of role-playing forwards carrying the Penguins' offensive load.

He, fellow fourth-liner Craig Adams, and third-line center Talbot have combined for four of the Penguins' seven series markers.

Actually, Kennedy is a role player by nature, too. At least, he had been over three previous seasons before injuries to several top-line scorers this season provided him an opportunity to play more minutes.

He scored 13 of his career-best 21 regular-season goals after former scoring-champion centers Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin were lost with injuries.

Also during that stretch of 29 games, Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury was outstanding most often -- and he was again in Game 3, stopping 25 shots and allowing on two power-play goals to Lightning right wing Martin St. Louis.

The Lightning has scored four of its seven series goals on the advantage -- a sure sign that the Penguins miss suspended left wing Matt Cooke, one of the NHL's better penalty-killing forwards.

"They get good shots from all around, and they've got guys standing in front, skilled guys waiting for rebounds," Fleury said of the Lightning's power play. "That's what makes them good."

Not good enough to be in front after three games, though -- and now the Lightning face a daunting task of beating the Penguins in a Game 4.

The only opponent to do it during coach Dan Bylsma's tenure is also the lone Eastern Conference team to win a playoff series against the Penguins over the past three postseasons.

The Montreal Canadiens, after losing Game 3, won Game 4 at home in Round 2 last season - and they finished off the Penguins in seven games.

"Yeah, we remember," Fleury said.


More Penguins headlines


NHL hands Chris Kunitz, Steve Downie 1-game suspensions
The NHL's supplementary discipline process was at work once again this morning as the League announced (via Bob McKenzie Tweets ) that Pittsburgh Penguins forward Chris Kunitz and Steve Downie of the Tampa Bay Lightning have been suspended one game each for separate hits in last night's Game 3 of their series. First, the two hits that caused a spinning of the Wheel of Justice this morning:
- Puck Daddy

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First of all, the word is SEX, not GENDER. If you are ever tempted to use the word GENDER, don't. The word is SEX! SEX! SEX! SEX! For example: "My sex is male." is correct. "My gender is male." means nothing. Look it up. What kind of sick neo-Puritan nonsense is this? Idiot left-fascists, get your blood-soaked paws off the English language. Hence I am choosing "male" under protest.

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