2011 NHL Playoffs: James Neal, Pittsburgh Penguins Push Lightning to Brink

Alison Myers@AlisonM_110Correspondent IApril 21, 2011

2011 NHL Playoffs: James Neal, Pittsburgh Penguins Push Lightning to Brink

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    James Neal scored in double overtime and Arron Asham scored his third goal of the postseason to lead the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 3-2 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Wednesday night.

    Pittsburgh now leads the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series three games to one and can eliminate the Lightning on Saturday afternoon back at Consol Energy Center.

    Let's recap the rest of the game and see who played well on both sides of the puck.

    We'll also look ahead to Saturday's Game 5 in Pittsburgh.


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    Tyler Kennedy put the Penguins on the board first at 8:14 of the first period with a power-play goal. Zbynek Michalek and Mark Letestu picked up their first points of the postseason with assists.

    At 2:39 in the second period, Arron Asham gave Pittsburgh a 2-0 lead with his third goal of the playoffs. But at 17:14, Martin St. Louis erased Marc Andre Fleury's shutout bid to cut the lead in half.

    Lightning captain Vincent Lecavalier picked up an assist on the goal by making a pass from the right side to St. Louis.

    Tampa got better chances in the third and capitalized at 16:43. Sean Bergenheim scored on a scramble in front of the net.

    St. Louis picked up his second point of the night with the primary assist, and Pavel Kubina was credited with the second assist.


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    In the first overtime, Craig Adams was called for tripping at 17:34. This gave the Bolts a power play for almost the rest of the period, but they were unable to convert.

    As a result, the Lightning finished 0-for-4 on their man advantage.

    Neal's goal came at 3:38 of the second overtime. It was his first goal of the playoffs and first career postseason goal.

    In addition, it was his first point since last Wednesday's playoff opener.

Penguins' Key Players

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    Tyler Kennedy: Kennedy has a goal in each of the last two games of this series. Including the end of the regular season, he has scored in three of his last five.

    His tallies include a power-play goal and the game-winning goal in Game 4. 

    Arron Asham: His three goals in the playoffs are close to his career high of four, which he posted with the Philadelphia Flyers last season.

    Ben Lovejoy: The young defenseman now has two points in the postseason.

    Marc-Andre Fleury: He has more than made up for his poor performance last Friday and had a 29-save performance tonight. He did not let up more than two goals for the second straight game.

Lightning Key Players

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    Martin St. Louis: St. Louis scored the goal that cut the Penguins lead in half and assisted on Sean Bergenheim's goal. He now has six points in four posteason games.

    Vincent Lecavalier: He fed a nice tic-tac-toe pass to St. Louis for the goal for three points in four playoff games.

    Dwayne Roloson: Despite the loss, the veteran netminder turned in another solid performance. He stopped 50 of 53 shots, including 17 of 18 shots in the second period.


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    Forwards Chris Kunitz and Steve Downie sat out this game as a result of being handed one-game suspensions by the NHL.

    Kunitz was suspended for an elbow to the head of Simon Gagne, while Downie was out after a hit to Ben Lovejoy. Colin Campbell declared that Downie left his feet to deliver the hit.

    Max Talbot was hit by Mattias Ohlund in the third period and was sent to the quiet room as required by the NHL's concussion protocol. However, he returned for overtime.

Game 5 Preview

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    When: Saturday, April 23 at 12 noon

    Where: Consol Energy Center, Pittsburgh, PA

    TV: ROOT Sports will carry the game locally in Pittsburgh and Sun Sports will televise in the Tampa Bay area. Versus and CBC will have national feeds


    Tampa Bay will head back to Pittsburgh hoping to force a Game 6. The Lightning lost in six games in their last playoff appearance in 2007, when they were eliminated by the New Jersey Devils.

    Meanwhile, Pittsburgh will be looking to advance to the second round for the fourth consecutive year.

    Should the Penguins get through to Round 2, they can start looking ahead to having forward Matt Cooke back from suspension.

    Cooke has been suspended since late March after a hit to New York Rangers rookie Ryan McDonagh.

    Cooke has 13 points in 37 playoff games with Pittsburgh.

    Steven Stamkos will still be looking to breakout. He had some chances to get the puck on goal tonight but was blocked by the Penguins' strong defense.

    Look for Penguins prospect Eric Tangradi to maybe get another chance. He set up the screen for Kennedy's goal tonight and brings solid size (6'4" and 221 pounds) to the lineup.

    In addition, St. Louis and Lecavalier must stay hot to give the Bolts another chance.

    Teddy Purcell, who got his first postseason point tonight following a strong regular season, will also have to stay focused and keep providing offensive output.

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