Make us your home page
Instagram

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

Loading...
  1. Bucs' Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson kneel during national anthem

    Bucs

    Bucs receivers Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson both kneeled during the national anthem in protest before Sunday's game at the Vikings, two days after President Donald Trump made critical remarks about NFL …

    Bucs receivers Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson both kneeled during the national anthem in protest before Sunday's game at the Vikings. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]
  2. Matt Baker's AP Top 25 college football ballot

    College

    Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher still thinks he can have a good team. Maybe he's right.

  3. My AP Top 25 ballot: FSU out, USF, Florida Gators back in

    Blogs

    Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher still thinks he can have a good team, as I wrote in today's Tampa Bay Times. Maybe he's right.

  4. Road to Atlanta, Week 4

    College

    State-ments

    Central Florida defensive lineman Tony Guerad (93) gestures in front of teammate Jamiyus Pittman, right, and Maryland offensive lineman Damian Prince, left, after tackling Maryland running back Ty Johnson and forcing a punt on fourth down in the first half of an NCAA college football game in College Park, Md., Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky) MDPS104
  5. Trump tweets and NFL response escalate drama of Sunday games

    Politics

    The owners of the Baltimore Ravens, the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots and other teams on Sunday joined a chorus of NFL executives criticizing President Donald Trump's suggestion that they fire players who kneel for the national anthem.

    President Donald Trump walks off the stage after he speaks at campaign rally in support of Sen. Luther Strange, Friday, Sept. 22, 2017, in Huntsville, Ala. [Associated Press]