TAMPA — The Penguins did not deliver a knockout blow to the Lightning in their 3-2 double-overtime victory in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals on Wednesday night.
But Tampa Bay is close to being out on its feet.
The Penguins swept the two games at the St. Pete Times Forum (where the Lightning tied a franchise regular-season record with 25 home wins) and have a three games to one lead in the best-of-seven series, with Game 5 on Saturday in Pittsburgh.
And consider this: Of 240 teams that have trailed 3-1 in a seven-game series, only 23 (9.6 percent) have come back to win.
The game in front of a sellout crowd of 20,326 was Pittsburgh's best of the series and ended 3:38 into the second overtime on James Neal's sharp-angle shot that goaltender Dwayne Roloson should have stopped. But the puck clipped his glove and went in.
Pittsburgh outshot Tampa Bay 53-31. It also scored its first power-play goal of the series on its 16th try. And it shut down Tampa Bay's power play, which went 0-for-4 after entering the game 4-for-11 in the series.
There was a moment of hope when Marty St. Louis's dramatic goal with 2:46 left in the second period made the score 2-1. And there was Sean Bergenheim's goal with 3:17 left in regulation that tied the score.
Other than that, the Penguins dominated, limiting Tampa Bay's shots and giving the Lightning few, if any, second chances.
Tyler Kennedy's power-play goal in the first period and a second-period goal by Arron Asham, a fourth-line plugger who has three goals in the series, were all the Penguins needed in front of goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, who made 29 saves.
The Lightning was flat from the outset, and the Penguins were structured and poised.
The result: The Penguins had a 12-6 shot advantage, outhit Tampa Bay 16-8 and had a 1-0 lead.
With Vinny Lecavalier in the penalty box for holding, Kennedy scored from a sharp angle 8:14 into the game, beating Roloson on the short side with a shot the goalie probably should have stopped.
It was the second straight game Roloson allowed a soft first goal.
The play began with Nate Thompson losing a defensive-zone faceoff to Mark Letestu. Tampa Bay entered the game having won just 40.7 percent of shorthanded draws.
Bergenheim had a chance to tie with 1:04 left on a breakaway as he came out of the penalty box. With Matt Niskanen hacking away from behind, Fleury saved Bergenheim's backhand and then Lecavalier's rebound try.
For the most part, the second period was as bad as the first for Tampa Bay, which was outshot 18-8.
Pittsburgh went ahead 2-0 2:39 into the period on Asham's rebound goal. Asham's shot from the slot hit the shaft of Thompson's stick, dipped at the last second and somehow found the crease between Roloson's legs.
St. Louis provided a spark with 2:46 left when he took a pass from Lecavalier and flew down the right wing. St. Louis deked to his forehand as he reached the net and put the puck under the stick of sprawling defenseman Ben Lovejoy.
St. Louis fired the puck past Fleury, igniting the crowd.