For James Neal, it erased 21 games of frustration. One shot from the half-wall at 3:38 in the second OT put James Neal into the Legend Book, put the Tampa Bay Lightning on life support, and put the name "James Neal" into the recesses of our minds as part of one of those "where were you" moments.
Only in the playoffs.
The playoffs are stories in themselves, and the Pens have so many. Not just James Neal.
Arron Asham probably didn't have 10 scoring chances all year.
Tyler Kennedy two goals in the last two games.
And now the Pens are in the driver's seat coming home. The Consol Energy Center has its first-ever casket match at high noon on Saturday.
Katie bluemling Sheldon
Griesmonkey with tons of solid pics throughout.
Asham and Bergenheim get into it.
Bergenheim apparently got shot from the press box.
Refs blow the whistle even though Tampa had possession.
PK time. And Pens kill it without much to talk about.
Lecavalier holds up Letang. Easy call.
Pens jump on the PP. The first unti has some chances or whatever. But the second unit cashes in.
Big Dog sets up shop in front.
TK walks in and snipes. 1-0.
If the fans weren't in it to start the game, now they were dead.
Dump-ins. The Tampa 1-3-1 lets the Pens exit the zone with ease. Roloson looked drunk.
Bergenheim's theatrics come back to bite him when he high-sticks Kovy.
2 minutes. Powerplay can't do anything.
Bergenheim gets a mini breakaway out of the box. Looked like Niskanen forgot about him.
However Niskanen plays him beautifully, limits him from making some type of unrealistic move. MAF makes the first save and still had to make a big save on a Lecavalier putback.
The rebound from Lovejoy's shot went straight to Asham.
Pens get a bounce, as it hits a Tampa defenseman.
Asham again. 2-0.
Ryan Malone sucks and goes to the box.
St. Louis almost tears a hamstring trying to buy a high-stick call.
Then he almost tears a hamstring celebrating a big goal. 2-1.
Then James Neal goes off for a bullshit call.
RECAP: Not surprising the Pens kind of gave the game back to Tampa. Been like that all season. Pens had a big-time 4-on-2 right before the St. Louis goal, but Rupp was gassed. Speaking of Rupp, what a playoff performer. The little plays.
Pretty much the first half of the third period, the Lightning refused to stop playing their system, still waiting for the Pens to make some kind of mistake. Pens were cycling deep, wearing out the Lightning players, and the Pens would finish them off by forcing Roloson to make some kind of save and freeze the puck.
There was a sequence in there of two or three times where the Pens carried it into the neutral zone and fired it from outside the blue line right at Roloson's sac.
Kennedy embarrassed Malone down the wing, jobbed someone else, and got a solid shot on net.
The puck came out on a platter for James Neal. Couldn't put it home.
Neal ended that shift by "high-sticking" Ryan Malone.
First thing Malone has done all series.
The Lightning PP was actually no match for the Pens' PK this game.
There was a hemisphere of domination around Fleury's cage.
With like 5 minutes left, Michalek makes the first mistake probably of his whole life. He turns the puck over, and the Lightning have an unreal chance with Marty and Stamkos on a give-and-go, but Marty missed a wide open net on a redirection. If you were looking for an omen, there it was.
A couple shifts later, the terd squad was out for Tampa.
Bergenheim scores off a flurry in front of MAF. 2-2.
Dominic Moore has no business being on the ice when a goal is scored.
It was the first time that the Tampa crowd made its presence felt. Huge tidbit: St. Louis was out against Lovejoy and Niskanen for 2 minutes or so prior to that. He helped burn the pairing for two goals.
The mission after that was just to get to OT.
Talbot got killed by Brewer in the corner. Classic head shot. No call.
RECAP: Spotty officiating all night. Huge missed goalie interference late in the third:
Pens had to kill a penalty to Craig Adams early in the OT when he and Simon Gagne got tangled up. No clue how that call is made. Pens killed it pretty easily.
Everyone could breathe. To double OT it went.
Neal got the puck and wheeled around and almost killed the ref with a shot.
Michalek retrieves it, shoots it back down the boards behind the net.
Tampa has a chance to get it out, but Paul Martin jumps in to keep it in the zone.
Staal wants the loose puck more than Lecavajoke and pushes it back to Neal.
All the while, Bob Errey is talking about how one OT goal for James Neal would erase 21 games of balls.
"It just takes one."
"THERE IT IS. HE SCCCCCCOOOROREEREREREREES."