Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Lightning Strikes Again – But for the Pens!

Pens up 3-1 in the series

By Jan Snyder

Just like a quick strike of lightning, James Neal's quick goal won the game for the Pens! So now we know that James likes drama and was waiting for just the right time to score that first goal in the playoffs. He couldn’t have picked a better time, slamming the puck into the goal from a crazy angle in the second overtime.

This was a strange contest. The power came back to the Pens power play as Tyler Kennedy (Kennedy!) scored a nice one in the first period before a strangely quiet Tampa Bay crowd. This time it was the Lightning who went 0-4 on the power play. In the second, that hard working fourth line did it again as Arron Asham put the Pens up by two.

I don’t want to doubt the Lightning’s passion, the series sure isn’t over yet, but I didn’t sense much urgency in their play as the quiet crowd sat on their hands. But then the little pest, St. Louis, did his thing and scored the first goal, exciting the fans and bringing some noise to the building. When Tampa scored a second goal and tied it, things really started to get interesting.

Although they tried, the black and gold couldn’t score in the third and overtime loomed large. I had a feeling that Kovy would be the hero and win the game for the good guys, but as OT 1 went on and on and my blood pressure got higher and higher, neither team scored and ultimately the buzzer sounded.

Oh, no, OT 2! The Pens looked like the stronger team, but it had been a strange game. The Tampa Bay goalie, Roloson, looked like he could be scored on, but he wasn’t. Many shots looked like they’d go in for the Pens, but they didn’t. All in all, one of those head scratchers. Seemingly, the puck was always with Vinny, Marty or Steven Stamkos, but nothing was happening as Fleury turned away all their shots.

Then, from out of nowhere, came James Neal! WooHoo! And sparing us all heart palpitations as he scored about four minutes into the period.

The defensemen were incredible and Orpik played almost forty minutes in the four plus periods! Maybe the team should get him a scooter to ride around in for the next couple of days and let his legs get some rest.

I’m a little concerned about Max Talbot’s head as he took quite a shot near the end of the game. He came back for OT, but I hope everything is okay. Jordan Staal took a nasty header into the boards, but he returned as well. And on Saturday, we’ll get Chris Kunitz back from suspension; however, Tampa will get Downie back from his suspension too.

The home crowd will be fired up and wanting to pull the Pens through and hopefully wrap up the first round. The scheduling is on our side as the guys will have three days to recover from the overtime periods.

Let’s keep this roll going, shall we?


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