for this game

Pens try to end series with Bolts

Apr 23, 2011 - 3:07 PM
(Sports Network) - The Pittsburgh Penguins will try to punch their ticket to the second round of the playoffs when they host the Tampa Bay Lightning today in Game 5 at CONSOL Energy Center.

After splitting Games 1 and 2 in Pittsburgh, the Penguins won the last two tests in Tampa to grab a 3-1 lead in this best-of-seven Eastern Conference quarterfinals.

Both of Pittsburgh's recent wins in Florida came in 3-2 decisions and Wednesday's Game 4 victory was won in double overtime.

The fourth-seeded Penguins would like to end this series today or they will have to head back to Tampa for Monday's Game 6 at St. Pete Times Forum.

James Neal was the hero for Pittsburgh in Game 4, as his first career NHL playoff goal won the game for the Pens at 3:38 of the second overtime. It was also just his second goal since joining the Pens after being traded from Dallas in February. Neal had just one goal in 20 regular season contests with Pittsburgh after scoring 21 in his first 59 tests with the Stars.

Paul Martin started the winning goal by keeping the puck in the Tampa Bay end at the right point. Jordan Staal dished to Neal and he let go a quick shot from the boards near the outer edge of the right circle that beat Lightning goaltender Dwayne Roloson.

"As long as you keep shooting, one is going to find its way into the back of the net," Neal said. "I got a shot off the draw and just wanted to shoot. I didn't have the angle, but it managed to find its way in. I was lucky to get one, but like I said again, the guys battled all night. Everyone did good."

Tyler Kennedy and Arron Asham also lit the lamp for the Penguins, who got a 29-save performance from Marc-Andre Fleury.

The winning goal was on the soft side, but Roloson did make a whopping 50 saves for Tampa in the losing effort.

"This is a long way from over," Roloson said. "We came back from 3-1 down twice when I played in Minnesota. We've got the character in this room to do it and we need to play our game for 60 minutes or for however many minutes it's going to take to win."

Tampa Bay erased a two-goal deficit on tallies from Martin St. Louis and Sean Bergenheim to send the game to overtime tied at 2-2. Bergenheim's game-tying tally came with 3:17 left in regulation.

Both teams will be getting suspended players back today, as Pittsburgh's Chris Kunitz and Tampa Bay's Steve Downie are eligible to return from one-game bans. Kunitz earned his suspension for elbowing Simon Gagne in the head in Game 3, while Downie received the sanction for a hit on Ben Lovejoy in the same contest.

The Penguins are 8-1 all-time when leading a series three-games-to-one. The only loss was in the 1975 quarterfinals, when Pittsburgh blew a 3-0 series lead to the New York Islanders.

Tampa Bay has never come back from a 3-1 deficit to win a series.

The Lightning have a trio of defensemen battling injuries, as Marc-Andre Bergeron (undisclosed), Randy Jones (left ankle) and Matt Smaby (lower body) are all questionable for today's game.

Of course, Pittsburgh is still playing without captain Sidney Crosby due to a concussion. Crosby continues to practice with the team, but he has not been cleared for contact and will miss today's game.

The Penguins had a 25-14-2 record in their first year at CONSOL Energy Center, while Tampa Bay was 21-14-6 as the visiting team this season. Game 6 is scheduled for

Pittsburgh and the Bolts split four meetings during the regular season and this playoff series marks the first-ever postseason matchup between these clubs.