TAMPA — After the Lightning won Game 5 of its Eastern Conference quarterfinal series with the Penguins to put off elimination, wing Marty St. Louis was adamant.
"We're going to fight till the end," he said.
And the end was again delayed as Tampa Bay for the second time staved off elimination with a 4-2 victory in Game 6 on Monday night in front of a sellout crowd of 20,309 at the St. Pete Times Forum to tie the best-of-seven series at three games apiece and set up a Game 7 showdown Wednesday in Pittsburgh.
Steve Downie's goal 4:55 into the third period broke a 2-2 tie and came about 22 seconds after a shocking three-save sequence by goaltender Dwayne Roloson.
Downie added two assists. Sean Bergenheim, Teddy Purcell and Ryan Malone also scored, and Tampa Bay's penalty kill, led by Nate Thompson and Dominic Moore, was as stout as ever, going 5-for-5 and 29-for-30 in the series.
But it was the Roloson-Downie sequence that was as important as it was dramatic.
The Penguins had tied the score 2-2 3:48 into the third period on Jordan Staal's goal.
Max Talbot then bore down alone on Roloson. The goalie saved a wrist shot from in close and Talbot's backhand rebound try and then Pascal Dupuis' rebound try at 4:33.
The play went the other way, and Downie scored from in front. Malone's breakaway slap shot at 9:34 was the insurance goal.
The Penguins began the game with a stout defense that prevented the Lightning easy passage through the neutral zone or into the offensive zone, and Tampa Bay did not get its first shot on net until 9:37 remained in the first period.
It's not as if the Penguins were storming, either; they went 10:32 without a shot. Tampa Bay ended the period with a 9-7 shot advantage after trailing 5-0.
Pittsburgh took a 1-0 lead 8:23 into the period with that fifth shot as Dupuis took advantage of a Roloson miscue. The goaltender tried to play the puck at the side of the net, fumbled it and then backhanded it behind the net right to Talbot, who hit Dupuis with a pass.
Purcell tied the score with 3:24 remaining when he put in a rebound of Malone's shot on which goalie Marc-Andre Fleury made a sprawling save. The play got a lucky boost when Pavel Kubina's pass from the top of the right faceoff circle hit Downie's skate and deflected to Malone.
The Lightning power play took center stage in the second period with four kills as the team lost some discipline. A fifth penalty, on Kubina for tripping Chris Conner from behind on a breakaway, resulted in a penalty shot.
Conner flubbed the shot 9:21 into the period when the puck rolled off his stick. He recovered but at such a sharp angle, his one-timer was easily stopped by Roloson.
The Lightning took a 2-1 lead at 5:44 on Bergenheim's goal that was an easy tap-in after some good work by Moore, who kept working despite being interfered with and hooked without a call being made.
The Penguins had a great chance on their final power play, but Thompson blocked Chris Kunitz's shot from the slot with 40 seconds left.