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Tampa Bay Lightning needs to improve key areas to extend playoff series against Pittsburgh Penguins

Patience, not panic, and selective memory.

That is what Lightning players and coaches preached after Wednesday's 3-2 double-overtime loss to the Penguins that put Tampa Bay down three games to one in their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series and one loss from elimination.

Patience, left wing Simon Gagne said, because winning three straight, including two in Pittsburgh, starts with winning the first period of Game 5 on Saturday at the Consol Energy Center.

Selective memory, goaltender Dwayne Roloson said, because, well, the past is past. "Amnesia, bud," he said when asked about overcoming Wednesday's emotional loss.

Gagne and Roloson know the drill. Gagne was with the Flyers last season when they overcame a 3-0 series deficit to beat the Bruins in the East semifinals. Roloson was with the Wild in 2002-03 when it beat the Avalanche in the West quarterfinals and the Canucks in the semis after being down 3-1 in both series.

"We've got the character in this room to do it," Roloson said. "We've just got to play our game plan for 60 minutes or whatever amount of minutes it's going to take to win a hockey game."

Where does the Lightning need to improve? A primer:

Shoot the puck

Tampa Bay has been outshot in each game and 159-111 overall. Including the regular season, it has been outshot in 11 of its past 13 games. Forget the perfect play. Pittsburgh's James Neal in Game 4 simply threw a puck on net and scored the winning goal.

Win faceoffs

The Penguins have won the faceoff battle in each game, taking 52.2 percent. Tampa Bay has been even worse on special-teams faceoffs, winning just 14-of-36 (38.9 percent) while short-handed and 9-of-19 (47.4 percent) on the power play. Winning faceoffs means puck possession and, on the penalty kill, time off the clock.

Timely goaltending

Dwayne Roloson has been brilliant at times, and his .943 save percentage entered Thursday third in the league among goalies with more than one playoff game. But he has allowed at least four softies, two in the 3-2 Game 4 loss, including the winner. Roloson's 50 saves in Game 4 were nothing at which to scoff. Still, a goalie has to make the save he should.

Get a lead

In each game in the series, the team that scored first went on to win, and consider Tampa Bay has led only 60 of the 264 minutes. As Simon Gagne said after Game 4, in which the Lightning overcame a two-goal, second-period deficit, "That took a lot of energy for us to get to the second overtime, especially when you have to battle back to tie the game."

Diversified scoring

Marty St. Louis entered Thursday tied for second in the league with four playoff goals. No other Lightning player has more than one, and Steve Stamkos has zero, not to mention just five shots. No playoff team has fewer players with a goal than Tampa Bay's six.

Can the Lightning win the series?

"If you knew me, you wouldn't ask me that," coach Guy Boucher. "It's possible. I've seen it before. I've done it before."

"We know we can win against that team if we play the way we can play," Simon Gagne said. "It's not going to be easy. You just need that first one, 20 minutes by 20 minutes."

And considering Tampa Bay's convincing 5-1 road victory in Game 2, "there is not one person in our room who thinks this is over or is going to be easy," Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma said. "We understand how dangerous that team is over there."

Still, of the 240 NHL teams that previously fell behind 3-1 in a seven-game series, only 23 (9.6 percent) came back to win.

"It's going to take everything we've got," defenseman Pavel Kubina said. "We've got to bring the series back (to Tampa for Game 6). Then, you never know what is going to happen."

Tampa Bay Lightning needs to improve key areas to extend playoff series against Pittsburgh Penguins 04/21/11 [Last modified: Friday, April 22, 2011 12:00am]

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