If you think back to last year's demise of the Pittsburgh Penguins, you think about Marc-Andre Fleury and the defense being subpar. Well, in Game One, Marc-Andre Fleury and the defense started their quest for atonement. And it was a pleasure to watch.
Fleury was perfect, stopping all 32 shots he faced, including a life-changing save on Vinny Lecavalier early in the second period.
The defense was just as good. Paul Martin and Michalek Island were brought here for this. They rose to the occasion. Brooks Orpik's hit on Stamkos in the first moments of the game may have set the tone for the series.
So the Pens win the first game of the series and put themselves in a great position going into Friday's Game Two. A win puts them up 2-0 and in a great spot. All the pressure in the world on Tampa on Friday night.
All the respect in the world to Jeff Jimerson, but this was the first time in the history of Penguins games that the anthem was goosebump city:
Just an incredible tone set. Hopefully this happens again.
Anthem pic of the night:
Neal has the first chance of the game, but he doesn't get all of it.
Pens buzzing everywhere early. Roloson looked confused.
Puck goes into the Pens' zone, and Candy destroys Stamkos. The ensuing icing call against the Pens actually worked in their favor with the fans still going nuts.
The hit no question set the tone. That hit was something you didn't see from Orpik in the regular season. Stamkos never recovered.
Ryan Malone went to the net to look like he did something.
Orpik was still hitting people.
It was obvious Ryan Malone was trying to set some tone. He played one of the most selfish games of all time. Took unlimited penalties.
Things start settling down after that. Tampa was out-shooting the Pens are one point.
Fleury has to make some saves, snagging pucks out of the air.
Talbot and Conner sustain some pressure.
Then all the Pens follow suit.
James Neal has an unreal shift and draws a penalty.
But it dies when TK hooks someone. Both good calls.
4-on-4 is not where you want to be against Tampa.
Dick Clark comes in on a 2-on-1 with St. Louis maybe.
Clark shoots it. What an idiot.
Tampa was still coming hard at the next faceoff, but MAF was in the zone.
Big moment midway through the first. Some shot from the point sneaks though. MAF was scrambling.
Dominic Moore for some reason thinks it goes in and celebrates the non-goal.
Then like two seconds later, Moore helps Max Talbot fall down.
Pens get 1:40 on the PP.
Can't do anything with it, though.
After some shit, Malone charges someone. No call. Then he crosschecks Kovalev. Penalty. Malone skates to the box like there's a game of Monopoly going on. Killed.
You can understand Ryan Malone being all jammed up, but what an embarrassing game.
Late in the first, Lovejoy goes off for hooking Stamkos.
Pens kill the first half.
There are moments in playoff games when things change.
Right off the bat in the second, it happened.
Tampa had a little momentum and a powerplay. After they set up shop, the puck finds Cousin Vinny in a crowd. And MAF makes a huge save. Huge.
This kills off the rest of the penalty.
And the Penguins begin to grind the Lightning down.
Then Downie goes to the box.
The Pens PP comes alive. 2 minutes of insanity.
ROFLoson looked calm. Staal hit the post or something.
Malone and Kovy get into it in front of MAF.
Nothing happens on the 4-on-4.
Michalek got the stick into Marty's face. He's like 8 inches tall. Nothing is a high stick on him. Plus he was laying on the ice. What an idiot. St. Louis screams at the ref and motions that Michalek swung his stick at him. Come on.
Then Michalek stuck Downie. What a player.
The Pens pretty much dictated the entire second period.
And they had no goals on the board.
Recap: The Lightning already looked exhausted.
At one point they had three shots in 23 minutes.
The Lightning looked like a brand-new team coming out for the third. This game never felt like a playoff game until the third period. MAF just would not let anything beat him.
On the other end, the Pens get a big-time shift from the third line. Really changed momentum.
The Pens get the top line onto the ice and they start doing shit. Kovy gets hauled down. No call. But before you can start bitching about it, the puck comes to James Neal.
He dishes it to the right.
Kovy got up. Booooom. 1-0.
Great pass by Neal. And Kovy with the finisher. Man.
CONSOL finally turned into what we've waited for. A mad house. Tampa was stunned.
18 seconds later, it was kicked up another level.
Asham carries it coast and coast and essentially ends the game.
Catching ROFLOSON out of position, Asham city slammed one home. Playoff performer. Man.
CONSOL was out of control.
The Lightning then began to melt down. They take two penalties.
The Pens powerplay just can't seal the deal, though.
Tampa Bay feeds off the kill to try to get back into the game.
MAF trips or some shit and leaves the net wide open. But St. Louis can't ran into his own guy.
Kunitz starts flying around and almost scores on some breakaway. Gay Boucher decides to pull his goalie. The puck rolls to MAF. He doesn't even think about shooting it. He plays it to the corner.
Seconds later, Kunitz city gets it. Empty net. 3-0.