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2011 NHL Playoffs: Penguins Take Game One, Defeat Lightning 3-0 Behind Marc-Andre Fleury's 32-Save Shutout

If the Pittsburgh Penguins are to defeat the Tampa Bay Lightning in their best-of-seven series, tonight's victory will need to serve as the blueprint for future successes.

The Penguins defeated the Lightning 3-0 on Wednesday in Pittsburgh behind Marc-Andre Fleury's 32-save shutout and a two-goal outburst in third period. The victory gives the Penguins a 1-0 series lead and could leave the Lightning searching for answers heading into the now-vital second game of the series for the road team.

The teams remained deadlock through 46:05 of play until a bitter Alexei Kovalev sent Penguins fans into rapture. Trailing behind the play and fuming after falling victim to a trip by Pavel Kubina, Kovalev found himself wide-open at the doorstep of the net when the Penguins regained possession near the top of the offensive zone. Once James Neal's pass reached Kovalev, Lightning goaltender Dwayne Roloson was helpless to stop the Russian's one-timer, giving the Penguins a 1-0 lead.

Aaron Asham doubled the lead 18 seconds later, getting Roloson to commit to his wrap-around move before depositing the puck into an empty net, making the score 2-0. A late empty netter from Chris Kunitz would settle the proceedings.

The real hero on the night for the Penguins, though, was Marc-Andre Fleury, withstanding an early barrage of chances and shots from the Lightning and turning the contest into the grind that the Penguins had hoped for. At one point in the first period, the Lightning had outshot the Penguins 7-1. By the end of the game, that number had skewed in the Penguins' favor by a 39-32 margin.

Alongside Fleury, the Penguins can credit effective performances on defense, namely from the pairing of Brooks Orpik and Kris Letang. Orpik set the physical tone early in the game with a bone-crunching hit on Steven Stamkos and the pair would go on to largely shut Stamkos' line out of the game.

Roloson took the loss for the Lightning, making 37 saves on 39 shots in a strong performance. 

Faceoff for Game Two is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. on Friday at the Consol Energy Center.

Photographs by dizfunk used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.