NHL Playoffs 2011, Lightning Vs. Penguins: Lightning Even Series, Beat Penguins 5-1

The Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-1 in Game Two of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals on Friday night, evening the series at 1-1.

Eric Brewer and Simon Gagne were the stat monsters on the night for Tampa Bay, tallying three points a piece and the dazzlingly effective Martin St. Louis contributed a goal and an assist as well.

Key to the Lightning’s success and the Penguins’ woes were special teams. Tampa Bay finished the game 2-for-5 on the man advantage while the Penguins were a woefully inadequate 0-for-7, lowering their power play to an 0-for-11 for the series.

And like that, the euphoria of the Penguins’ Game One victory dissipates, and in its wake plumes doubt and pessimism.

Much post-game analysis could focus on Marc-Andre Fleury’s atypically shaky performance while surrendering 4 goals on 20 shots. But Fleury undoubtedly deserves the benefit of the doubt after his Game One heroics and the Penguins should expect their resilient goaltender to bounce back in Game Three.

Questions remain, however, for much of the Penguins’ anemic forward corps and a player who will need to show serious improvement in Game Three is Jordan Staal. Matched up against St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier as the Penguins’ shutdown center, Staal was on the ice for four of the Lightning’s goals and in the penalty box for the other.

He finished the night with a single shot on goal and a -3 rating in 18:05 of ice time.

Dwayne Roloson earned the win for Tampa Bay, looking steady when not handling the puck and making 35 saves. It was his first playoff victory since 2006.

The teams will get the rest of the weekend off before the series resumes on Monday at the St. Pete Times Forum. The opening faceoff is schedule for 7:35 p.m.

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