Well, Tampa Bay got the split they wanted before this series began with a 5-1 win in Game 2.
This was simply a matter of the Penguins not matching the desperation level of the Lightning in the first period.
Falling behind 3-0 heading into the first intermission is not what the Penguins, or their fans, were expecting. However, that’s exactly what happened.
Before anyone suffers broken ankles from jumping off the Marc-Andre Fleury bandwagon, let’s break down the goals against.
Goal 1 – 1st Period – Eric Brewer 2-on-1 at 2:02.
During a 4-on-4 situation, Kris Letang pinched down in the offensive zone and got burned. It’s not entirely his fault though. When he looked over his shoulder before electing to pinch, there was no one there.
Brewer collected a pass in the slot from Simon Gagne and took off up ice with Nate Thompson, who had just jumped on after a late change.
Brooks Orpik was the lone man back and played the situation by the book. He took away the passing option from Brewer and forced him to take the shot.
Fleury had a good angle, but was cleanly beaten by a well-placed shot. An inch higher and it rings off the crossbar. An inch lower and Fleury catches at least a piece of it.
Goal 2 –1st Period – Vincent Lecavalier Power Play Goal at 6:53
First of all, this goal never happens if not for a spectacular play by Brewer to keep the puck in the offensive zone.
After the play at the blue line, Tampa Bay worked the puck around the zone until it came to Gagne along the goal line to the right of Fleury.
Martin St. Louis barely beat Paul Martin to a loose puck along the near wall to start the play. St. Louis chopped the puck back to the corner for Gagne, who fed a backhand pass into the crease.
Letang failed to box out Lecavalier, who was able to easily shovel the puck into the net to put Tampa Bay up 2-0.
Goal 3 – 1st Period – Thompson Rebound Goal at 17:02
If you had a bad case of déjà vu watching this goal, you’re not alone.
The Penguins practice this play all the time. The puck-carrier will intentionally shoot at the goaltender’s far pad in order to generate a rebound for the late man streaking to the net.
Steve Downie fired a wrist shot from the faceoff dot to the left of Fleury. The puck caromed off his right pad and right to Thompson, who had a wide open net.
Zbynek Michalek cheated over to Downie on the 2-on-1, which left Thompson all alone in his drive to the net. Michalek realized his mistake too late and the Pens were down 3-0.
Goal 4 – 2nd Period – St. Louis Power Play Goal at 19:46
At first glance, this looks like a bad goal against Fleury. However, upon further review I’ve got a suggestion for where Martin needs to be when the Pens are on the power play.
Orpik was sent to the box for merely shoving a Tampa Bay player, but I’m not going to turn this into a rant about the officials. We’ll get into that in a second.
Jordan Staal lost the face-off clean, which allowed Tampa Bay to get set up. Lecavalier won the draw and St. Louis moved over to chip the puck back to Brewer at the point.
Brewer made a quick dish to Gagne, who sent it down the wall to St. Louis.
At this point, time is winding down in the period and St. Louis has no angle to shoot from. However, he does the smart thing and throws the puck at the net.
Martin dove to block the shot, but the puck deflected off his stick and over Fleury to kill any chance the Pens had at coming back in the game.
Martin made the right play because he was trying to prevent a pass to Lecavalier in the crease. It was just an unfortunate bounce.
So to recap, two 2-on-1 goals and two power play goals were scored in the game. I don’t care about the empty net goal in this scenario because it doesn’t involve Fleury.
Fleury was solid in Game 1 and was hung out to dry in Game 2. There’s not much more to say about it.
Now, about the officiating.
The Penguins and fans of the club have nothing to complain about when it comes to penalties in the game.
Was the call on Orpik that led to the fourth goal extremely weak? Absolutely. What about the one on Max Talbot early in the first period? Sure, throw that one in there too.
The fact is, the Penguins ended up with seven power play chances and only managed eight shots. They are now 0-for-13 in the series with the man-advantage.
Pittsburgh had their chances to cut into the lead and make a game of it, but could barely get set up in the zone.
Conversely, Tampa Bay scored on two of their six power play opportunities and added a shorthanded empty net goal late in the third period.
For those keeping track, that’s a minus-3 in special teams for the Penguins in Game 2.
Of course, this is the rational thought process for why the Penguins lost Game 2.
The irrational side of me thinks that missteps in my ritualistic game day routine have angered the hockey gods.
Changes to the game day routine will now include the following:
- I will no longer wear any Winter Classic gear on game days.
- I was off from work on Friday. As a result, I slept in, which means the bed did not get made as it was prior to Game 1.
- Pre-game meal was ham for Game 1, fish before Game 2. Anyone want to guess at what’s not on the game day menu ever again?
I know these are all rookie mistake and I should have taken greater care in my preparation. I assure you, the rest of the routine was spot on and calculated throughout the day.
For these three mishaps, I am sincerely sorry.
One other weird anomaly: Tampa Bay won the opening face-off in Game 1 and lost. Pittsburgh won the opening draw in Game 2 and lost. Yes, I keep track of these things. Like I said, I become entirely neurotic at this time of year.
While 5-1 may look bad on paper, all I’m seeing is that the series is 1-1. Game 3 is Monday and the Pens need to earn at least a split down in Florida.
It’s anybody’s series, but at least we haven’t had to endure an overtime game in a while right?
I’ll just apologize for that last line now in the event Game 3 turns into an overtime marathon.
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