Apr 20, 2011, 11:24 PM EDT
Penguins fans have been hurting to see James Neal struggle so much of late with Pittsburgh. Before tonight’s Game 4 against Tampa Bay, the last time Neal scored a goal was March 8 against Buffalo. Since then he’s epitomized the term “snake bitten” when it comes to generating offense. They often say the one way to cure your ills as a goal scorer is to just throw anything at the net.
Neal took that advice at 3:38 of the second overtime and ripped a shot from the half boards that somehow found a way to get by Dwayne Roloson to give the Penguins a 3-2 win in the game and a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series. The goal was Neal’s first career playoff goal.
For Roloson, the goal was a cruel twist of fate after making 50 saves in a losing effort. A goalie can’t do much more than that to help his team win a game but you have to get more out of your teammates and Roloson didn’t have that. The Penguins did their damage in regulation with grinders Tyler Kennedy and Arron Asham scoring to put the Pens up 2-0 but the Lightning whittled away. Martin St. Louis scored in the second period while Sean Bergenheim tied the game up late in the third to send it to overtime.
For Pittsburgh the win sends them back home with a chance to end the series and put the Penguins into the conference semifinals. It’s a highly enviable position for them to be in and unless the Lightning can find a way to get through the Penguins defense and generate more offense, they’re in big trouble. Marc-Andre Fleury only had to make 29 saves tonight through 83 minutes worth of game. That kind of offense won’t cut it.
The Penguins just need to keep being tough and keep doing what they do to slow down the Lightning’s best players. With their ability to sustain defensive pressure for a full game, things aren’t shaping up very well for Tampa Bay in Game 5 on Saturday afternoon at 12 noon.
- Andre’s gigantic game: Caps push Rangers to the brink 63
- Quick strike: Lightning steal Game 3 from Habs with last-second goal 22
- WATCH LIVE: Tonight’s Stanley Cup Playoff action 0
- Canada fights back to beat Sweden at worlds 20
- NHL hockey ops explains no-goal call 48
- Jack Adams Award finalists to be announced tonight 4
- Video: Flames stun Ducks in OT to get back in the series 10
- Video: Controversial no-goal call on Flames 15
- Video: Crawford, Kane help Blackhawks push Wild to brink of elimination 53
- WATCH LIVE: Tonight’s Stanley Cup Playoff action 1
- Vigneault: ‘Standards have been set’ after Ovechkin, Backstrom hits (103)
- ‘You can’t win,’ ex-NHL ref Fraser says of Prust incident (83)
- New York second: Capitals stun Rangers for 1-0 series lead (76)
- Red Wings’ Devellano calls Mantha ‘very, very, very disappointing’ (67)
- Lundqvist thinks Backstrom’s hit caused Rangers to lose focus before game-winning goal (63)