PITTSBURGH - One game after being blanked, the Lightning barely blinked before getting on the board Friday.
Eric Brewer scored in the opening two minutes to kick-start a three-goal first period en route to a 5-1 victory for Tampa Bay against Pittsburgh in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinal. The Lightning tied the series at one game apiece as the series shifts back to Tampa for Games 3 and 4 starting Monday.
Brewer set a career playoff high with three points while Simon Gagne tied his career playoff best with three assists. Marty St. Louis added a key goal late in the second period to go with an assist as Tampa Bay scored twice on the power play. Vinny Lecavalier and Nate Thompson also scored for Tampa Bay, which was shut out in the Game 1 loss.
Mattias Ohlund scored a shorthanded goal into an empty net with 2:05 left to play, his first goal in two seasons with the Lightning and his first since April 7, 2009.
The five goals for Tampa Bay set a franchise record for most goals in regulation in a playoff game and tied the playoff record for most goals in a game, set originally on April 21, 1996, in an overtime victory against Philadelphia.
Dwayne Roloson stopped 35 shots to pick up the victory, while Marc-Andre Fleury - who pitched the 32-save shutout on Wednesday - made 16 saves in the loss.
After seeing quality scoring chances get snuffed out on some acrobatic moves by Fleury on Wednesday, the first shot of the game went in on Friday as Brewer zipped a wrist shot over the goaltender's glove just 2:02 into the game on a 2-on-1 breakaway while the teams were skating four-on-four.
While getting on the board early didn't win Tampa Bay the game, it certainly took some of the pressure off after being held off the board in the first game.
"It's always good to score early, especially after last game when we felt we had a real, real good start and didn't get the results we wanted and then they got the momentum,'' Brewer said. "Tonight, we had a good start again and got rewarded and were able to settle in a little more.''
By the end of the first, Tampa Bay had built up a 3-0 lead as Lecavalier tipped in a pass by Gagne from the bottom of the circle past Fleury at the 6:53 mark while Thompson buried a rebound chance with 2:58 left in the first after Steve Downie stripped a bouncing puck from Paul Martin from center and raced in to fire a shot.
"I felt we came out, and both teams played hard tonight, but I think we just capitalized on our chances,'' said Lecavalier, who scored his 19th career playoff goal, second-most in franchise history. "That was something we didn't do in the first game and it definitely helps to be up 3-0 after the first period.''
The Penguins, however, started to press back, gaining momentum staring eight seconds into the second period when Ryan Malone was called for closing his hand on the puck to give Pittsburgh a power play to start things out.
And just like Game 1, the Penguins did not score with the man advantage (and went 0-for-7 on the night) but they started to put Tampa Bay back on its heels by pinning the Lightning in their zone and creating chances.
It wasn't until Roloson misplayed a puck that Pittsburgh was able to get on the board. After a dump-in by the Penguins fumbled off Roloson's stick and trickled into the no-play zone inside the trapezoid area behind the net. Roloson was unable to play the puck with a penalty, and Arron Asham brought it toward the net, where Craig Adams put in the rebound at 9:08.
The Penguins took a penalty late in the period when Brooks Orpik was called for a cross-checking penalty with 21 seconds left in the second. Off the faceoff in Pittsburgh's zone, Gagne put the puck down low to St. Louis who fired a puck toward the crease where it was deflected off the stick of Martin, into Fleury before dropping into the net with 14 seconds left in the period.
From there, Tampa Bay played an efficient game, protecting the lead by doing a lot of dumping the puck and changing often while keeping shifts short to ensure the series would be tied heading back home.
"It's only 1-1, it's very early in the series and we have to be happy with what we did tonight,'' Lecavalier said. "But at the same time, we have to carry on to the next one.''
Tribune's 3 Stars
1. Lightning D Eric Brewer - Goal, two assists, plus-two in 25 minutes of ice time
2. Lightning LW Simon Gagne - Picked up three assists to tie a franchise record
3. Lightning RW Marty St. Louis - Scored momentum shifting goal, added an assist