Hockey Night In Canada Stanley Cup Playoffs 2011

'The play' pays off for Bolts

Categories: PIT vs. TAM, Pittsburgh Penguins, Second Round, Tampa Bay Lightning, WSH vs. TAM, Washington Capitals

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Sean Bergenheim, left, of the Tampa Bay Lightning shoots and scores past Marc-Andre Fleury (29) of the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 7 on Wednesday in Pittsburgh. The Lightning defeated the Penguins 1-0. (Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) Sean Bergenheim, left, of the Tampa Bay Lightning shoots and scores past Marc-Andre Fleury (29) of the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 7 on Wednesday in Pittsburgh. The Lightning defeated the Penguins 1-0. (Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
It's a slick little play.

A pretty effective one, too.

Doesn't have a name yet, though.

Well, it might have one in Pittsburgh by now, but odds are that if so, it's one that couldn't be repeated here.

For it is the play that produced the goal that effectively ended Pittsburgh's season, and lifted Tampa Bay into a second-round playoff matchup with Washington by virtue of a 1-0 victory in Game 7 of the first round at Consol Energy Center Wednesday night.

The play begins with Lightning center Dominic Moore carrying the puck from right to left behind the opponent's net. That draws the goalie across the crease, in anticipation of a play developing on the side to which Moore is headed.

But as he nears the far post, Moore slides the puck back to linemate Sean Bergenheim, who is set up near the goal line to the right of the crease and usually has an opportunity to flip the puck into a mostly open net.

Which is precisely what he did at 5:41 of the second period for the only goal scored by either team. And which he had done to give the Lightning a 2-1 lead in Game 6 two nights earlier.

"The entire team practices it," Lightning coach Guy Boucher said. "They're just better at it [than the others], I guess."

Not, he might have added, by accident. Moore and Bergenheim have been linemates enough this season that they're able to work together seamlessly.

"We've played quite a bit all season long," Moore said. "We're pretty comfortable. It helps to be on the same page in the offensive zone, to know where each other is going to be."

Obviously, the Penguins did not know where they were going to be. Or, more to the point, where the puck would be, until it was too late.

"They made a nice play," Pittsburgh right winger Arron Asham said. "Give them credit. That won them the game."

Power outage punishes Pens

The Penguins were on their 35th power play of the series when Game 7 ended.

As with 33 of the 34 that preceded it, it did not yield a goal.

When Pittsburgh sits down to assess why it is out of the playoffs after one round for the first time since 2007, its inability to get anything except exasperation out of its power play figures to get a lot of attention.

"It's a huge reason why we lost the series," left winger Chris Kunitz said. "We couldn't get the momentum when we needed to score those goals. For whatever reason, we couldn't kick the power play into gear."

Rollie impresses

Lightning goalie Dwayne Roloson raised his career record to 6-0 in elimination games by making 36 saves to record his second career playoff shutout.

"We had pucks in around the net, and Dwayne Roloson threw a goose-egg," Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma said.

Roloson, who was acquired from the New York Islanders Jan. 1 to stabilize Tampa Bay's goaltending, finished the series with a 1.77 goals-against average and .949 save percentage.

"He's been terrific for us," Boucher said. "Obviously, coming up with a shutout in the last game, you can't ask for better."

Neal, Kovalev missing on scoresheet

The Penguins acquired wingers James Neal and Alex Kovalev as the trade deadline approached because they believed both could enhance their offence.

It didn't work out that way, however.

Neither was a significant offensive force during the stretch drive and they got one goal each during the Tampa Bay series. That means they combined to score one fewer than Asham, a fourth-liner.

Kovalev's time in Pittsburgh hit its nadir when the Penguins went on their final power play of the series with 93 seconds left in regulation, and he didn't make it off the bench.

Bylsma said Kovalev didn't play then because Bylsma deployed the group he felt would "give us the best chance to cash in on the opportunity."

Kovalev is an unrestricted free agent this summer, and that vote of no-confidence makes it pretty clear that the Penguins aren't likely to try to re-sign him.

The kids are alright

Although Pittsburgh's edge in playoff experience was viewed as a major plus for it going into the series, the Lightning's young players like Steven Stamkos and Victor Hedman proved to be quick studies.

Well before Game 7, they didn't look anything like guys who were in this setting for the first time.
"We had to learn fast," Boucher said. "We had a lot of guys who had no experience in the playoffs, and we were playing an experienced team that knows how to win.

"We knew it was going to be extremely hard. Our young guys were nervous to start. Basically, they learned to execute under pressure."

Inspirational fight

The Lightning dedicated the series - and, specifically, Game 7 - to assistant coach Wayne Fleming, who is being treated for brain cancer.

Boucher noted that Fleming oversees the Lightning's penalty-kill, and said "he deserves a lot of the credit" for Tampa Bay advancing to Round 2.

He also praised the Penguins, who he said retrieved the puck immediately after the game ended and gave it to the Lightning, who will present it to Fleming.

"They were classy the entire series," Boucher said. "I'm not surprised, but I'm impressed."