NHL Eastern Conference Finals Game Four: Pittsburgh Penguins at Tampa Bay Lightning

2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs
Eastern Conference Finals – Game #4
#2 Pittsburgh Penguins at #2 Tampa Bay Lightning
Penguins Lead Best of Seven Series 2-1
Amalie Arena – Tampa Bay, Florida
Friday, May 20, 2016, 8:05 pm Eastern, TV: NBC Sports
Opening Line: Penguins -145 / Lightning +125
Current Line: Penguins -145 / Lightning +125
Opening Total: over 5 -110 / under 5 -110
Current Total: over 5 -140 / under 5 +120

The Lightning and Penguins meet in game four of the Eastern Conference Finals Friday night. Pittsburgh leads the series 2-1.
The Lightning and Penguins meet in game four of the Eastern Conference Finals Friday night. Pittsburgh leads the series 2-1.

After losing game one of the Eastern Conference Finals, the Pittsburgh Penguins have won two straight games against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Now, the Lightning try to even the series before it switches back to Pittsburgh for game five Sunday.

Tampa Bay won game one 3-1 in Pittsburgh but the win was costly. Vezina trophy finalist goalie Ben Bishop was carted off the ice in the first period of that game with a knee injury. He hasn’t played since and is out Friday. Pittsburgh won game two 3-2 in overtime. The Penguins regained home ice with a 4-2 victory in game three Wednesday night in Tampa Bay.

In game three, neither team scored in the first period. Pittsburgh finally scored with just 10 seconds left in the second period on a goal from Carl Hagelin. Phil Kessel score five minutes into the third to make it 2-0 Penguins. Tyler Johnson scored 11 seconds later for the Lightning. Sidney Crosby scored a power play goal midway through the third. It was the second straight game Crosby had scored a goal after not scoring in the previous 8 games. Chris Kunitz made it 4-1 Pittsburgh 3 minutes later. Tampa scored with less than 2 minutes left on a goal from Ondrej Palat to send the game over the total. The Penguins had 48 shots to 28 for the Lightning. Pittsburgh won 34 faceoffs to 30 for Tampa Bay. Pittsburgh was 1/3 on the power play and Tampa Bay was 0/1. Tampa Bay had 20 penalty minutes to six for Pittsburgh.

Pittsburgh is coached by Mike Sullivan. The Penguins finished second in the Metropolitan Division with 104 points. Pittsburgh dominated the New York Rangers in 5 games in the first round. The Penguins outscored the Rangers 21-10 in the series. Pittsburgh upset the Washington Capitals in six games in the second round. Five of the six games were decided by one goal including 3 overtime games. Pittsburgh is 58-30-4-4 this season and the total is 42-36-18 this season.

Tampa Bay is coached by Jon Cooper. The Lightning finished second in the Atlantic Division with 97 points behind the Panthers who had 103 points. The defending Eastern Conference champion dispatched the Detroit Red Wings in five games in the first round. The Lightning lost game one against the New York Islanders but then won four straight games to return to the Eastern Conference Finals. Tampa Bay is 56-33-2-3 and the total is 38-44-14 this season.

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Pittsburgh is outscoring teams 3.21-2.29 in the playoffs. The Penguins average 34.7 shots per game and opponents average 30.4 per game. Pittsburgh is 13/49 (26.5%) on the power play in the playoffs and 38/46 (82.6%) on the penalty kill. The Penguins have one short handed goal and has allowed one as well.

Pittsburgh goalie Marc-Andre Fleury missed the first two rounds with a concussion. He is healthy but will likely not play barring injuries. Back-ups Matt Murray and Jeff Zatkoff split time in the net for the Penguins. Murray is 9-3 in the playoffs with a 2.13 goals against average. He has made 334 of 360 saves (.928) with one shutout. Zatkoff is 1-1 with a 3.07 GAA. He has made 59/65 saves (.908). Murray will continue to start barring injury.

Phil Kessel has 16 points with nine assists. Center Sidney Crosby has 13 points in the playoffs including 8 assists.   Nick Bonino has 12 points with 10 assists. Carl Hagelin has 11 points with 6 assists. Evgeni Malkin has 10 points with 7 assists. Kris Letang has 9 points with 8 assists.  Patric Hornqvist has nine points with 6 goals in the playoffs. He is probable with a hand injury. Six other players have at least 5 points in the playoffs. Right wing Beau Bennett is out with a shoulder injury. Left wing Scott Wilson and center Kevin Porter are both out indefinitely.

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Tampa Bay is outscoring teams 2.85-2.08 this season. The Lightning average 28 shots per game and opponents average 32.4 per game. Tampa Bay is 8/46 (17.4%) on the power play and 44/52 (84.6%) on the penalty kill. The Lightning have not scored or allowed a short handed goal.

Bishop is 8-2 in the playoffs with a 1.85 GAA. He has made 279/297 (.939) saves with two shutouts. Andrei Vasilevskiy is 1-2 and has a GAA of 2.45. He has made 115/123 saves (.939). He has started in place of Bishop.

Tyler Johnson has 14 points with 9 assists. Nikita Kucherov has 14 points with 9 goals, including 4 on the power play. Victor Hedman has 11 points with 7 assists. Jonathan Drouin has 11 points with eight assists. Alex Killorn has 10 points with 4 goals. Three other players have at least 6 points. Center Steven Stamkos is out indefinitely with an arm injury. Defenseman Mattias Ohlund is out indefinitely with a knee injury.

Pittsburgh is 15-3 after allowing two goals or less, 5-1 against Atlantic teams, 24-5 on on day rest, 12-3 in road games, 17-6 after a win, 19-7 against teams with winning records, 37-14 overall, 36-15 against Eastern Conference teams, 2-5 in Conference Finals, and 2-7 in Friday games. The Penguins have won 13 of the last 18 games against the Lightning.

Tampa Bay is 24-9 in Friday games, 5-2 overall, against Metropolitan teams and against Eastern Conference Finals, 7-3 after scoring 2 goals or less, 66-32 at home, and 1-5 against teams with winning records. The over is 18-5-3 in this series recently including 4-0 in Tampa Bay. The home team is 7-3 in this series recently.

Andrei Vasilevskiy has made a ton of saves in the last two games, but he has faced almost 90 shots. That can’t happen if Tampa Bay wants to win. By comparison, the Lightning have 49 shots in the last two games. The Tampa Bay offense needs to get back on track or this will be a short series. I think the Lightning figure it out and tie the series tonight.

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