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Advantages on special teams not paying off for Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Pittsburgh Penguins

TAMPA — A cliche in the playoffs is that special teams make the difference.

"Not in this series,'' Lightning coach Guy Boucher said. "We're losing the series right now, and we are clearly winning the special-teams battle, whether it's penalty killing or the power play.''

The Lightning has scored four power-play goals on 11 chances against the league's top-ranked regular-season penalty kill and killed all 15 of the Penguins' power plays.

Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said the Lightning is not using a power-play scheme it used the most during the season or one the Penguins extensively scouted. Bylsma also credited the Lightning with keeping its power play simple. "They've been real good at not being real fancy and getting pucks to the front of the net,'' Bylsma said Tuesday. "They are not particularly hard, wired shots, but just pucks in that area for tips or rebounds.''

What's hurting the Lightning is five-on-five play, where the Pens are outscoring it 6-2, excluding a Pens empty-net goal in Game 1.

"They're a little sharper around our net five-on-five than we are around their net,'' Boucher said. "We're not going to score five or six goals five-on-five against (Penguins G Marc-Andre) Fleury. Chances are he might let in one five-on-five, but if we do score one or two on the power play, it has to be enough at home to win a game.''

TALKING 'BOUT PRACTICE: The Penguins held a full-scale practice at the St. Pete Times Forum. The Lightning opted for a brief optional skate that included most of the defensive corps. Most of the Lightning forwards, including Marty St. Louis, Vinny Lecavalier and Steven Stamkos, did not skate.

A handful of Penguins players, including Fleury, did not take the ice; they had maintenance days. Captain and star Sidney Crosby, out since early January with a concussion, did skate, but his status has not changed — he still isn't allowed contact — and he is not expected back for this series.

MALONE SHOULD BE IN: Lightning W Ryan Malone suffered an upper-body injury in Game 3 but should be in the lineup tonight. "There's no indication that he won't play,'' Boucher said.

AHL Playoffs: Norfolk lost Game 3 of its series with Pens affiliate Wilkes-Barre/Scranton 2-1 at home but still leads the series 2-1.

MISCELLANY: Saturday's Game 5 in Pittsburgh is at noon and will air on Sun Sports and 970-AM. … The Lightning has won four Game 4s in franchise history and gone on to win those series all four times. It is 1-4 in series in which it has lost Game 4.

Advantages on special teams not paying off for Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Pittsburgh Penguins 04/19/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 19, 2011 10:02pm]
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