Hockey Night In Canada Stanley Cup Playoffs 2011

Pens, Bolts put Game 5 behind them

Categories: PIT vs. TAM, Pittsburgh Penguins, Tampa Bay Lightning

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Vincent Lecavalier (4) had a goal and an assist as his Tampa Bay Lightning buried the  Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 5. (Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) Vincent Lecavalier (4) had a goal and an assist as his Tampa Bay Lightning buried the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 5. (Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh have reached the point in their playoff series where they don't agree on much.

Skirmishes after whistles are becoming more frequent and intense, and while there didn't seem to be a lot of animosity between the players 10 days or so ago, there certainly is now.

But there is at least one thing on which the teams appear to concur: The Lightning's 8-2 victory in Pittsburgh in Game 5 isn't likely to have any more of an impact on Game 6 Monday night at the St. Pete Times Forum than a 4-2 or 5-3 decision would have.

"I think it's an easy one to throw in the garbage," Pittsburgh left winger Mike Rupp said Sunday. "It's another loss, whether it's 13-0 or 1-0. We'll take it as that."

Tampa Bay doesn't want to toss its victory aside and forget it, of course, but right winger Steve Downie said it would be a mistake to focus on the Lightning's margin of victory.

"A win's a win," he said. "It doesn't matter how much you win by. They don't count the score at the end of the day. Just the win."

Pittsburgh needs one more of those to secure a spot in the second round, just as it did going into Game 5. That is the reality coach Dan Bylsma figures to stress before the opening faceoff Monday.

"At the end of the day, they won a game to make it 3-2," he said. "It's 3-2 in our favor.  lot of the emotions of a loss have to be dealt with and put aside, then move onto the situation at hand.
"e have an opportunity to be the first to get to four wins. Our team has got to get refocused and be ready for Game 6."

Road mentality

Know how road teams have been having an exceptional amount of success in these playoffs?

Well, Tampa Bay seems to have gotten the message and, after losing Games 3 and 4 at the St. Pete Times Forum, apparently plans to have its players spend Sunday night in a hotel, presumably to simulate the conditions found in an away game.

Just might work, at least until someone looks out his window and realizes there aren't many palm trees or pelicans in Pittsburgh.

Recovery time

Penguins centre Jordan Staal, along with right winger Tyler Kennedy, were excused from practice Sunday, receiving a "maintenance day" to give some bumps and bruises a chance to heal.

He should more than make up for the time off Monday night, however.

Staal is averaging 21 minutes, 15 seconds of ice time per game - that's more than four minutes more than any other Pittsburgh forward - in this series, and is being used in every conceivable setting.

Still, he's had an up-and-down series so far, and a strong two-way showing by him in Game 6 could be a difference-maker.

"You're talking about a guy who plays in every situation every time he goes over the boards," Bylsma said. "They score four power-play goals [Saturday]; I don't think Jordan Staal felt very good about that. He's a big part of our penalty kill.

"So certainly, [he bears] some responsibility for that, and I know he takes responsibility for that. And there are other scenarios of the game that are like that, as well. He could have a good power-play night and not a good penalty kill night, and he's walking home not feeling maybe great about his game or his situation because of how much he means to our team.

"But our team and how we play and the emotions of our team, a lot of it is through Jordan. Last game wasn't good in a lot of regards; we don't feel good about the game. But now it's time to refocus and get on to Game 6, and Jordan will be a big part of that for our team in getting back to what we need to do and how we need to play to be successful and how we have been successful in the series."

Purcell no wallflower

It went largely overlooked because guys like Steven Stamkos and Simon Gagne had such big-time performances in Game 5, but Lightning right winger Teddy Purcell, appearing in just his fifth career playoff game, had a pretty fair day for himself, as well.

He got the primary assist on three Tampa Bay goals, and did not look the least bit out of place in such a high-stakes game.

"He's like Stamkos," Lightning coach Guy Boucher said. "We know he has skill. He has tremendous skill. He has an incredible shot, great vision. It's the battle level all year long that increasingly got better.

"He's up to a level now where he's able to compete with the best of them. Those guys are slowly learning what it takes to win at this level at this time of year."

Bounce back?

Pittsburgh goalie Marc-Andre Fleury was pulled from Game 5 after allowing four goals on 14 shots.

That's the good news for the Lightning, that it was able to drive a guy who had been having a very good series to the bench.

The bad news is that, if precedent is any indication, Fleury should produce an exceptional performance in Game 6.

The previous three times he was pulled from a playoff game, he responded brilliantly in his next start.

Fleury is 3-0 in those bounce-back games, with a .958 save percentage and 1.33 goals-against average.

Baby Pens top Baby Bolts

Pittsburgh's American Hockey League affiliate, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, ran off their fourth consecutive victory Saturday night to claim a spot in the second round of the Calder Cup playoffs.

The twist is that they did it against Norfolk, which just happens to be Tampa Bay's farm team.
And because the Admirals' season is over, the Lightning today recalled two forwards Mattias Ritola and Blair Jones, and goalie Dustin Tokarski.

There's no indication any of those three is likely to dress for Game 6.