Penguins equipment manager Dana Heinze, left, said it is difficult to face the Lightning, the team with which he spent six seasons as an assistant equipment manager and won the 2004 Stanley Cup. "Even after all these years," he said. He said he has swapped text messages with Lightning equipment manager Ray Thill and will be rooting for Tampa Bay if it gets past Pittsburgh. "We have a bond that will be there forever," Heinze said.
Lightning founder Phil Esposito watched the Penguins go through their 30-minute morning skate at the Consol Energy Center and concluded "I don't see a purpose." Esposito said the first morning skates he recalls were started in the 1960s by coach Bill Reay, whom he had with the Blackhawks. "I went out there and took one shot and said, 'I'm okay,' " recalled Esposito, who also said skates took place in street clothes. "No sweaters, no jerseys," he said. "We took our jackets off and our ties and went out there." Esposito said the best part of the skates were the 15-minute scrimmages with lunch on the line. "Those games were tough," he said. "It's like we were playing for the Stanley Cup."
marc-andre fleury: The Penguins goalie showed why he's a candidate for league MVP, wowing the crowd with 32 saves in getting his fifth postseason shutout, including several spectacular saves in a first-period flurry. His sprawled-out pad save on Ryan Malone in the first and stick save on Vinny Lecavalier in the second helped spark the crowd to chant, "FLEURY! FLEURY!"
Alex Kovalev: The Penguins right wing broke a scoreless tie 6:05 into the third with a one-timer from the right circle. Kovalev, 38, had scored just two goals in 20 games with the Penguins after being acquired in a February trade with Ottawa, but he had arguably the biggest goal Wednesday.
Jordan Staal: The Penguins center had just one assist but was an offensive force with five shots. He hit the post in the second.
Game 1 recap
The Lightning started strong in the physical, hard-fought game and had a 9-2 shot advantage 6:42 in. But beginning early in the second, the Penguins began gaining momentum. From that early shot disadvantage, Pittsburgh had a 38-23 edge. A little more than six minutes into the third, the Pens stung the Lightning for two goals in 18 seconds, from Alex Kovalev and Arron Asham. The outcome might have been different if the Lightning could have converted on some of its early chances. But goalie Marc-Andre Fleury was terrific to keep the Lightning at zero.
Wednesday, Penguins 3, Lightning 0: Pens G Marc-Andre Fleury wows.
Friday: at Pittsburgh, 7, Sun Sports
Monday: at Tampa Bay, 7:30 #
Wednesday: at Tampa Bay, 7 #
April 23: at Pittsburgh, TBA * #
April 25: at Tampa Bay, TBA * #
April 27: at Pittsburgh, TBA * #
* If necessary # Sun Sports or FSN
Games 2, 3, 4 and 7 on 970-AM Games 5 and 6 on 620-AM
$30-$220. Available at the St. Pete Times Forum box office and via Ticketmaster: ticketmaster.com, outlets, toll-free 1-800-745-3000.
Game 1 breakdown