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VIDEO: Penguins Take ECF In 7 Games, Move On To Stanley Cup Final
By Jameson Bradley
Although the score was 2-1 in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final it didn’t say much about the game played. After both the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Pittsburgh Penguins fought hard to win 3 games each, it came down to a Game 7 to decide who was going to move on to the Stanley Cup Final. Both teams overcame injuries, and both teams relied in 21-year old goal tenders to keep them in the running. So you would think that both teams would show up to a Game 7 to try their hardest to earn the spot. Pittsburgh showed up with 39 shots on the board by the end of the game and some of the greatest play making I have seen from them all playoffs. Andrei Vasilevskiy and Jonathan Drouin seemed to be the only members of the Lightning that showed up. I’ll let you know when I find the rest of the roster.
If I had to pick a period where the Lightning still had a fighting chance it would be the first. Shots came out to be 8-5 in favor of the Pens by the end of the period and each team took a penalty. No goals though, so the playing field was still level.
I’m pretty sure Tampa Bay thought Game 7 was only going to be one period because they were out shot in the second frame 5-21. 5-21! This is a Game 7 here and they only got off 5 shots in the second period! The Penguins finally got on the board after doing everything they could to get a goal. A bad change by Tampa led to a drop pass at the blue line from Evgeni Malkin to Chris Kunitz. Kunitz saw a streaking Bryan Rust and drew a couple of Lighting toward himself before making the pass. Rust sped down the middle and landed a nasty snipe glove side on Vasilevskiy. 1-0 Pens. Amazingly Jonathan Drouin tied the game up minutes later. Drouin tied the game, not the Lightning. In an incredible single handed effort Drouin entered the zone, slid from side to middle, drew a couple of players with him, and shot against the grain high glove side on Matt Murray. The tie game didn’t last for long. Seconds after Drouin’s effort Ben Lovejoy shot a bomb off the end boards to have it end up near the net. The puck went off the net, and Vasilevskiy was a bit too slow in reacting to get it. He put his glove down milliseconds after the puck was there and it found it’s way to Bryan Rust once again. Rust chipped the puck into the opening between Vasilevskiy’s arm and leg. 2-1 Pens. Incredibly the period ended 2-1. Stamkos even had shot on a breakaway, but couldn’t add a goal to his team. After shots being 29-10 in favor of the Penguins the Lightning still had a chance going into the third to win the game.
Shots were 10-7 in favor of the Penguins, even though they didn’t need it. They controlled the third period from start to finish. Tampa couldn’t seem to get anything started and kept looking for set plays instead of trying to get some bounces on net. The Penguins would go onto win the game and the series.
You’ll notice that my review of the third period was a little brief. I don’t know if the Penguins played that good of a defense that the Lightning couldn’t get anything started, or if the Lightning just gave up. It was obvious they were not only losing steam, but they had accepted their fate. Just like in past games I didn’t put it past the Lightning to get a goal somehow and tie the game, but they just didn’t have any chances. The only word I can think of is “suffocation”. Pure and simple. Vasilevskiy played an amazing game. There was also a period of time where it was all five Pittsburgh players trying to get the puck away from Drouin. Drouin played a great game, but he didn’t receive any help. Coming back into the lineup was Steven Stamkos who had been out since March 31st. He played a little over 11 minutes, had 2 SOG, and ended with a -1. It was just incredible to see the Lightning play the way they did in this series and play Game 7 like this, but equally as incredible to see the Penguins control the outcome as much as they did. The Stanley Cup Final will start Monday in Pittsburgh against San Jose. The Lightning were riddled with injuries the entire playoffs, but it didn’t seem to affect them until now. They played a great series and they have much to look forward to next season.
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