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Tampa Bay Lightning latest to show home ice no longer an advantage in playoffs

PITTSBURGH — Dan Bylsma has accomplished a lot in 21/2 seasons as Penguins coach, compiling the most playoff victories in club history and winning the 2009 Stanley Cup.

But before Game 5 against the Lighting on Saturday, his son, Bryan, reminded him of one thing he hadn't done. "I'm oh-fer at closing at home," Bylsma said.

Five times under Bylsma, including Saturday, the Penguins have had a chance to clinch a series at home. Five times they have failed.

But the loss speaks to a larger trend in the NHL, in which home ice seems to have become a disadvantage. Entering Saturday, road teams had won 21 of 35 playoff games. The road team has won four games in this series.

"All through the years, everyone said you have to win your games at home, so it puts pressure on you," Lightning coach Guy Boucher said. " 'Absolutely win at home' might make you play a little tight. I know that's what it was for us two games at home."

The Penguins, up 3-2 in the best-of-seven series, can clinch Monday in Tampa. And considering the Penguins won both games there, it could be a welcomed change of scenery.

"Maybe the concentration is a little bit better on the road," Penguins D Zbynek Michalek said. "Hopefully, we can go back on the road and play our game, get back to our system and get the last win that we need."

As for Saturday, Michalek said, "This is pretty embarrassing."

GOOD GAME: Lightning G Dwayne Roloson resisted the notion he had much to do with the Game 5 win. But his 13 first-period saves were integral, and his 31 overall gave him a .942 save percentage in the playoffs, second to the .946 of Washington's Michal Neuvirth.

Roloson also contributed expertise on comebacks. He played for the 2002-03 Wild, which came back twice to win series after trailing three games to one.

"That's up to each individual to bring their experiences," he said. "Stuff was said (in the locker room), but I don't think it made a difference in the way we played."

fleury pulled: Penguins G Marc-Andre Fleury, with his team playing poorly in front of him, was pulled in the second period after being tagged with four goals on 14 shots. Since his Game 1 shutout, he has a 3.16 GAA and a .870 save percentage. "It wasn't going our way," said Fleury, who was pulled for Brent Johnson. "I didn't make any big saves."

HARD HIT: Lightning D Mike Lundin was clobbered by W Mike Rupp in the first period. But Lundin said the hit was not to the head, as first believed. "He got me pretty solid," Lundin said. "You feel the crowd cheer that you got put on your (behind)."

BACK IN: With Boucher dressing seven defensemen, Marc-Andre Bergeron got his first playoff action. He had an assist and three hits in 15:02 of ice time. Bergeron, 30, said he is almost healed from a minor injury he would not discuss and said he was a bit rusty: "Early on, the engine was teeming with a little smoke. But I'm older. … I'm taking care of myself. It wasn't bad."

ODDS AND ENDS: F Dana Tyrell and defensemen Randy Jones and Matt Smaby were scratched. … Pittsburgh's Alex Kovalev became the 78th player with 100 playoff points when he assisted on Rupp's third-period goal that made it 7-1.

AHL playoffs: Norfolk was knocked out with a 6-3 loss to Pens affiliate Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, which won its fourth straight to take the first-round series 4-2.

Tampa Bay Lightning latest to show home ice no longer an advantage in playoffs 04/24/11 [Last modified: Sunday, April 24, 2011 11:04am]
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