Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa Bay Lightning secures playoff berth with 2-1 win over Pittsburgh Penguins

TAMPA — There was a weird mix of emotions in the Lightning locker room Thursday night.

On one hand, there was the sense of a job well-done. Tampa Bay's 2-1 victory over the Penguins clinched the team's first playoff spot since 2007 in front of an announced sellout of 20,126 in a game with postseason atmosphere and implications.

Owner Jeff Vinik made an appearance, smiling and shaking players' hands, and saying, "With the team we've put in place, I couldn't be more excited."

Still, no one was throwing any parties.

As goaltender Dwayne Roloson said, "Everyone is happy we won, but we can't be complacent. We have to focus on the things we have to do to win hockey games."

The Lightning (42-24-11) did that for the third straight game, and it did so against a team it appears likely to meet in the first round of the playoffs. Steve Downie and Marty St. Louis had first-period goals. Roloson made 36 saves as Pittsburgh had a 37-24 shot advantage, 31-16 after the first period.

But a statement game? One in which potential playoff opponents take each other's measure? Tampa Bay would not go that far.

Perhaps that was because the Penguins were without injured stars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. More likely, it was the message that trickled down from the top.

"We've established certain standards and a work ethic," general manager Steve Yzerman said. "We've accomplished a few things, but it doesn't make it a successful season yet."

And though coach Guy Boucher gave credit to players who "battled all year," he complained about how turnovers and penalties sapped the team's momentum and led to the Penguins dominating puck possession.

"I congratulated them," Boucher said, "but I equalized things pretty fast."

Still, given the Lightning has been pretty much a doormat the past three seasons, kudos were in order.

To St. Louis, whose winning tally gave him at least 30 goals for the sixth time in his career. And to Vinny Lecavalier, whose check in the offensive zone separated Kris Letang from the puck before St. Louis scored.

To Simon Gagne, who dug the puck from behind the net so Downie could score. To defenseman Pavel Kubina, who had a game-high five blocked shots. And to Roloson, whom wing Ryan Malone called "great" and Boucher called "solid" and who made 10 saves after Mike Rupp scored 4:31 into the third period to make it 2-1.

"They are a good team," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said. "They are dangerous."

"We're proud of what we accomplished," Lecavalier said. "But the focus is on the last five games and the playoffs. That's where the real games start."

Lightning 2 0 0 2
Penguins 0 0 1 1

First Period1, Tampa Bay, Downie 9 (Gagne, Stamkos), 4:51. 2, Tampa Bay, St. Louis 30 (Lecavalier, Hedman), 10:13. PenaltiesMartin, Pit (interference), :39; Kubina, TB (hooking), 11:21; Lecavalier, TB (hooking), 14:20.

Second PeriodNone. PenaltiesHedman, TB (hooking), 1:59; Orpik, Pit (cross-checking), 11:45; Downie, TB (slashing), 11:45; Kennedy, Pit (roughing), 17:43; Downie, TB (boarding), 17:43; Hedman, TB (roughing), 17:43; Neal, Pit (holding), 19:28; Stamkos, TB (goaltender interference), 19:59.

Third Period3, Pittsburgh, Rupp 7 (Kovalev), 4:31. PenaltiesRupp, Pit (tripping), 8:31; Kovalev, Pit (cross-checking), 15:36. Shots on GoalPittsburgh 6-14-17—37. Tampa Bay 8-6-10—24. Power-play opportunitiesPittsburgh 0 of 5; Tampa Bay 0 of 4. GoaliesPittsburgh, Fleury 34-20-5 (24 shots-22 saves). Tampa Bay, Roloson 22-24-5 (37-36). A20,126 (19,758). T2:32.

Tampa Bay Lightning secures playoff berth with 2-1 win over Pittsburgh Penguins 03/31/11 [Last modified: Friday, April 1, 2011 9:40am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. After state, academics will trump athletics for King ace Brian Lee


    TAMPA — Brian Lee can still see himself on the pitcher's mound at Venice High School. Four years ago he was a freshman left-handed reliever just trying to keep King's state championship dreams alive.

    Pitcher Brian Lee participates in a practice at King High in Tampa, Fla., on Friday, May 26, 2017.
  2. Tiger Woods arrested on DUI charge in Florida

    Public Safety

    Golfer Tiger Woods was arrested on a DUI charge Monday in Jupiter, according to the Palm Beach County sheriff's office.

    Tiger Woods has been arrested on a DUI charge in Florida.
  3. Five cool things to do when it's hot outside


    Summer is not officially here, but it may as well be. School is out, vacations are coming, and it's time to enjoy the outdoors. Don't buy the argument that summer in Florida is too hot to get outside. There is plenty to do, and we'll prove it. Here are five cool things to do outdoors during another hot summer.

    Rainbow Springs State Park is a registered natural landmark. Rainbow Springs State Park in Dunnellon is one several state parks with natural swimming holes in Florida. (Octavio Jones | Times)
  4. Rays morning after: A lot that went into a marathon win


    Rays manager Kevin Cash had a simple strategy when Fox Sports Sun's Alex Corddry asked him how the team would move on from Sunday's marathon win and get ready to face the Rangers tonight in Texas:

    Kevin Kiermaier of the Rays celebrates as teammate Michael Martinez slides safely into home plate to score a run against the Minnesota Twins during the 14th inning.
  5. Rays journal: Erasmo Ramirez ready to start a day after closing game

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — RHP Erasmo Ramirez was on the mound to finish Sunday's 15-inning marathon win over the Twins and will start tonight's game against the Rangers.

    The Rays’ Erasmo Ramirez throws 12 pitches in the 15th inning against the Twins to earn the save then says after the game that he’s ready to make his scheduled start against the Rangers: “My arm feels good.”