NHL Playoffs Eastern Conference Final Game Two: Tampa Bay Lightning at Pittsburgh Penguins

2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs
Eastern Conference Finals – Game #2
#2 Tampa Bay Lightning at #2 Pittsburgh Penguins
Lightning Lead the Best of Seven Series 1-0
Consol Energy Center – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Monday, May 16, 2016, 8:05 pm Eastern, TV: NBC Sports
Opening Line: Penguins -215 / Lightning +185
Current Line: Penguins -190 / Lightning +170
Opening Total: over 5 -110 / under 5 -110
Current Total: over 5 -135 / under 5 +115

The Penguins look to bounce back from a game one loss to the Lightning.
The Penguins look to bounce back from a game one loss to the Lightning.

Despite losing goalie Ben Bishop to a scary looking leg injury in the first period, the Tampa Bay Lightning stole home ice advantage against the Pittsburgh Penguins with a 3-1 game one victory Friday night in the Eastern Conference Finals. Now, the Penguins look to even the series Monday night in game two before the series shifts to Tampa Bay for games three and four.

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.

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.

In game one, Bishop was carted off the ice 12 minutes into the first period when his leg folded awkwardly under his body. He is doubtful for game two with a knee injury. Alex Killorn gave Tampa Bay a 1-0 lead with just over a minute left in the first. Ondrej Palat scored a power play goal early in the second to make it 2-0 Lightning. Jonathan Drouin made it 3-0 late in the second. The Penguins finally got on the board on a power play goal with less than a minute left in in the second from Patric Hornqvist. Despite outshooting the Lightning 16-5 in the third, neither team scored in the last period. Pittsburgh had 35 shots to 20 for Tampa Bay. The Penguins won 35 faceoffs to 23 for the Lightning. Tampa Bay was 1/2 on the power play and Pittsburgh was 1/4. Tampa back-up goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy made 25 saves on 26 shots faced in relief of Bishop.

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Tampa Bay is outscoring teams 3.00-1.82 this season. The Lightning average 28.6 shots per game and opponents average 30.2 per game. Tampa Bay is 8/44 (18.2%) on the power play and 41/47 (87.2%) 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. Vasilevskiy has a GAA of 0.78. He has made 33/34 saves.

Nikita Kucherov has 12 points with 9 goals, including 4 on the power play. Tyler Johnson has 13 points with 9 assists. Alex Killorn has 10 points with 4 goals. Jonathan Drouin has ten points with eight assists. Three other players have at least 6 points. Center Steven Stamkos is out indefinitely with an arm injury. Wings J.T. Brown and Eric Condra, plus defensemen Anto, n Stralman and Mattias Ohlund are all out indefinitely.

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Pittsburgh is outscoring teams 3.17-2.33 in the playoffs. The Penguins average 33.1 shots per game and opponents average 31.3 per game. Pittsburgh is 12/44 (27.3%) on the power play in the playoffs and 36/44 (81.8%) 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 7-3 in the playoffs with a 2.15 goals against average. He has made 289 of 311 saves (.929) 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 13 points with eight assists. Center Sidney Crosby has 11 points in the playoffs including 8 assists. Evgeni Malkin has 9 points with 6 assists  Nick Bonino has 10 points with 8 assists. Kris Letang has 8 points with 7 assists.  Patric Hornqvist has nine points in the playoffs. Five 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.

Tampa Bay is 5-0  against Metropolitan teams, against teams with winning records, and against Eastern Conference teams, 4-0 in road games and after a win, 5-1 after allowing 2 goals or less, and on two days rest, 5-2 in conference finals games, and 36-17 overall. The over is 19-6-3 in this series recently including 8-1 in Pittsburgh. The Lightning have won four straight games against the Penguins.

Pittsburgh is 6-1 against teams with winning road records, 21-6 at home, 17-5 against teams with winning records, 28-11 after scoring 2 goals or less, 36-15 overall, 35-16 against Eastern Conference teams, and 0-5 in Conference Final games. The home team has won 6 of the last 8 games in this series. The Penguins are 7-2 at home against the Lightning.

Sidney Crosby hasn’t scored in eight games and Evgeni Malkin hasn’t scored in six games. It would certainly improve Pittsburgh’s chances for success if either or both began scoring goals. The loss of Bishop will hurt but Vasilevskiy is a capable back-up. This is almost a must win for Pittsburgh, and I think they earn a split at home with a close game two victory.

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