Three broken teeth and a fat lip didn’t prevent Martin St. Louis from helping the Tampa Bay Lightning bite back to even their first-round playoff series with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
St. Louis had a goal and assist, Eric Brewer scored and added two assists and the Lightning rebounded to beat the Penguins 5-1 on Friday night.
Vincent Lecavalier, Nate Thompson and Mattias Ohlund – into an empty net – also scored. Simon Gagne had three assists and Tampa Bay, coming off a 3-0 loss Wednesday night, rediscovered its high-powered offense to blow the game open with a three-goal first period.
Craig Adams scored for the Penguins, who came out flat and will have two days to regroup for Game 3 at Tampa Bay on Monday night.
For St. Louis, the performance was payback after the diminutive forward was livid that no penalty was called after he was cracked across the face by Zbynek Michalek’s errant stick in the second period of Game 1. After a late-night trip to the dentist and two root canals, St. Louis was still unhappy but ready to move on when returning to practice Thursday.
The Lightning followed their top scorer’s lead with an efficient opening period in which they scored on two of their first three shots, looking much like the team that finished second in the Eastern Conference with 247 goals.
The first period was a complete reversal of how Game 1 ended, with the Penguins scoring three times in the final 20 minutes. Another difference was how the crowd booed the Penguins off the ice two nights after goalie Marc-Andre Fleury exited to fans chanting his name and ”MVP! MVP!”
After making several acrobatic saves in stopping all 32 shots he faced Wednesday, Fleury struggled in allowing three goals on eight shots and finished with 16 saves. Lightning goalie Dwayne Roloson made 35 saves, including 14 in the final period.
Roloson’s best save came in the opening minute when he got his right shoulder to stop Tyler Kennedy’s shot from the right circle on a 2-on-1 break.
Lightning coach Guy Boucher couldn’t have drawn up a better first period.
He got the fast start he wanted, and even had a few penalty calls go his way after questioning how the Penguins had a 6-1 advantage in power-play opportunities in Game 1. Each team was penalized three times in the first period, with the Penguins finishing with a 7-6 edge in power-play chances. The Lightning capitalized on their chances, converting two of them.
Brewer opened the scoring on the Lightning’s first shot on goal 2:02 with both teams having a player in the penalty box. Driving up the right side on a 2-on-1, the defenseman snapped a high shot beating Fleury on the short side.
Lecavalier scored on the power play just under 5 minutes later. Brewer kept the play in the Penguins zone by batting the puck out of the air at the left point. The Lightning eventually worked it down to Simon Gagne in the left corner, where he fed a pass in front to Lecavalier, who had a step on defender Kris Letang, and stuffed it in.
Thompson scored with 2:58 left in the frame, capitalizing on a several Penguins breakdowns. After usually reliable defenseman Paul Martin whiffed on a bouncing puck in front of the Pittsburgh bench, Steve Downie burst up the right wing on a 2-on-1.
Fleury got his right pad out to stop Downie’s hard low shot, but left a fat rebound which Thompson swept in while driving to the front.
The Penguins showed life in a second period in which they outshot the Lightning 14-8 and briefly cut the lead to 3-1 on Adams’ goal 9:08 in.
St. Louis responded with a power-play goal with 14 seconds left in the frame, when his shot from a bad angle caromed up off the shaft of Martin’s outstretched stick and sneaked in behind Fleury.
The Penguins, meanwhile, couldn’t finish. In the second period alone, Kennedy was facing a wide open right side of the net, but shot it wide, while Mark Letestu hit the post while attempting to backhand in a rebound.
NOTES: Earlier in the day, Pens coach Dan Bylsma said there was no update on Sidney Crosby’s status while adding he didn’t sense the captain having any more urgency to return now that the playoffs have begun. ”I haven’t sensed anything to do with trying to get back earlier or feeling that pressure at all – not one bit,” Bylsma said. Crosby, who’s missed 42 games because of a concussion, is watching from the press box while wearing a headset to communicate with an assistant coach on the bench. … The Lightning lost consecutive games only nine times in the regular season, with the longest skid 0-2-2 last month.