Stanley Cup Playoffs: Eastern Conference Finals – Game Four

The Eastern Conference Finals continued last night. Game Four – The Pittsburgh Penguins at the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Pre-game noise
Today’s tempest in a teapot: Tyler Johnson leaves practice early – presumed injured due to taking a puck to the face, but is actually on the official game roster. He will be wearing a full face cage.

Today’s other tempest in a teapot: The ice at Amalie Arena was really screwed up this morning, teams only had access to half of the ice for 30 min each to practice

Tampa will bring back Slater Koekkoek and bench Jonathan Marchessault, going with 7-Dmen again

Andrei Vasilevskiy loses his stick a lot. An awful lot. Now I know why…

First Period

Fast start. Puck dropped. Victor Hedman shoots with a deflection by Ryan Callahan for the game’s first score.

After 27 seconds of play, it’s Tampa Bay 1, Pittsburgh 0

Then 40 seconds later, Carl Hagelin shamelessly trips Alex Killorn. The penalty would be succesfully killed.

Halfway through the period, Brian Dumoulin needs to come off the ice and Pittsburgh commits Too Much Man. Tampa goes to the power play once again.
The Lightning would take four shots on goal, but this penalty is also killed.

The Penguins would start to make some plays, and got some good shots on goal but…
On a zone entry, Alex Killorn with a subtle back pass to Nikita Kucherov who makes a nice pass through traffic to a pinching Andrej Sustr, who makes it 2-0 Bolts.

With about two minutes left in the period, there’s a little extracurricular activity after Matt Murray makes a stop on a J.T. Brown shot. Brown & Chris Kunitz will be going to the box/locker room. The period will end during a 4-on-4. And Brian Dumoulin clocks his own goalie in the head with his shoulder to end the period. Way to make friends, buddy!
Have I mentioned that I think he’s kind of an idiot?

Tampa is the stronger team in this period, with a slight edge in stats, but an impressive 18 shots on goal to Pittsburgh’s 12.
Both goaltenders have looked pretty good.

Second Period

Nikita Kucherov gets a boarding minor. Penguins go to the power play. Mike Sullivan is asking for a 5-minute major. Mike Sullivan is probably nuts. The penalty will be killed successfully

Later, Jonathan Drouin is caught holding (but not riding dirty) another Pittsburgh power play ensues. But Victor Hedman is good at killing penalties.

On the injury front, Trevor Daley falls down and cannot get up. He appears to hurt his leg falling after a Ryan Callahan hit. He would be helped off the ice, and would not return.

Soon after this, Kris Letang fires a late shot (after the whistle) that bounces off Jonathan Drouin. Brian Boyle confronts him, and chaos ensues. Boyle gets 2 minutes, Letang gets 4, and Matt Cullen already had 2 coming for a hold. 4 minutes of Tampa 5-on-4 are scheduled. This would not work out for the flightless waterfowl…

3-0, Tampa

The Pens would get the next power play, but they can’t cash in on it.
Shortly thereafter, the Bolts play ping-pong in front of Matt Murray, and Nikita Kucherov uses Tyler Johnson as a backboard to score. Some pundits would credit Johnson swapping to a new face shield, but it doesn’t appear that he had any control over what happened. The score is 4-0, Lightning.

The Penguins lack of discipline hurt them. I don’t expect to see this get fixed. Speculation is that Matt Murray will be pulled in favor of Mark-Andre Fleury

Third Period

Flower would indeed come in to play goal for Pittsburgh in the 3rd period.

Early in the 3rd, Phil Kessel would beat Braydon Coburn and Vasilevskiy for a goal – 4-1 Tampa

The officials would be “lenient” in the 3rd

Chris Kunitz confuses Slater Koekkoek and puck-carrier Evgeni Malkin puts it in the goal.
The Pens have taken advantage of Coburn & Koekkoek pairing twice now. Why would you keep putting these guys out there? What is Koekkoek giving you that you’d go 7-D just so you could bring him out for 5 minutes a night? Is Matt Carle injured? Who does Carl Hagelin’s hair? Is Sidney Crosby a space alien? Enquiring minds want to know!

Immediately after this, unbelievably, Killorn trips Letang giving Pitt another power play. Chris Kunitz would score on this power play.

Pittsburgh would keep the pressure on, and would have a furious onslaught within the last 2 minutes, when Fleury was pulled in foavor of a 6th Penguin skater.

The three stars of the game are
Jonathan Drouin
Chris Kunitz
Victor Hedman

The Tampa Bay Lightning wins 4-3
Series is tied 2-2

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