Kukla's Korner

Emotions Get the Better of the Bolts as Pens Claim 2-1 Series Lead

It was an emotional night in what is becoming an increasingly emotional series.

Perhaps, in hindsight for the Tampa Bay Lightning, it was a bit too emotional from the get-go.

In front of a frenzied St. Pete Times Forum crowd, witnessing its first home playoff action in four years, the Bolts came out flying and a physical tone was set immediately, with several rattling collisions in the opening minutes. Unfortunately for the Lightning, one such run-in, between Ryan Malone and Pittsburgh’s James Neal, hobbled the Tampa Bay forward, who missed most of the first period but battled through later in the game. Another, involving Steve Downie and Penguin defenseman Ben Lovejoy, could end up costing Downie some time in the Lightning lineup by way of a suspension, as he appeared to leave his feet in delivering the hit.

But Lovejoy was able to get the puck out of the zone before being toppled by Downie and that exit pass set up Maxime Talbot’s opening tally to put the Pens ahead.

Soon after, an aggressive attempt by Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman to take out attacking Pittsburgh forward Mike Rupp at the blueline came up empty. Rupp side-stepped Hedman, entered the Lightning zone and connected with Arron Asham for the game’s second goal.

And while a time out called by head coach Guy Boucher brought the fevered Lightning back to Earth enough to stage a comeback, to the tune of a pair of Martin St. Louis power play goals, that hard work went for naught, with Tyler Kennedy’s game-winner coming just 21 seconds after the St. Louis equalizer early in the third.

In a series that most had pegged to be as tight as possible, tempering emotions may prove to be the ultimate deciding factor. If the Lightning can’t figure out how to do that as a group in real short order here, against the playoff-tested Penguins, they’ll be cooked.

“You can’t let your excitement get you away from the game plan,” said St. Louis. “You gotta channel energy, stay within your structure and be patient. That’s how you win games.”

Granted, you can’t get on them too much for trying to make things happen and, in the first period, Pittsburgh took advantage of the Lightning doing just that, but failing to execute.

Hedman’s gaffe was a perfect example. With Rupp and Asham entering the Lightning zone and Hedman and fellow d-man Pavel Kubina retreating, the second-year Tampa Bay defenseman sprung toward Rupp to try and take him out of the play. When he missed, Rupp was in free and clear, having only to avoid a desperate sliding attempt from Kubina to get the pass to Asham, who connected for his second of the series.

Boucher recognized postgame, regarding this play in particular but really a point that could be made for several instances from game three, that it isn’t a matter of getting upset at the mistake. Instead, correct it and move on.

“It’s a question of getting it right.”

“It’s a young man’s mistake,” he added. “But it could be an older guy making the same mistake. He gets beat one-on-one and it creates a scoring opportunity out of nothing.”

Offered Hedman, “You just take the rush instead of trying to make the big hit.”

“It’s a small thing that I need to correct but that’s how we need to play.”

In a tightly-contested series, the small things are going to end up making the difference. They did last night and they will again, before all is said and done.

“It comes down to the smallest detail,” Boucher said, “And whether it’s today or the next game, that’s what it’s going to be about.”


More shortly from the Pittsburgh side of things, with FromThePoint.com’s Brian Metzer and several other topics to get to throughout the day.

Stay tuned…

JJ on Twitter

Filed in: Pittsburgh Penguins, Tampa Bay Lightning, | Beasts of the Southeast | Permalink


Evilpens's avatar

Frenzied?? Really ?

Posted by Evilpens on 04/19/11 at 11:53 AM ET

Jon Jordan's avatar

Crazed, nutty, whack-o, (drunk?)

Any of those work better? It was as, um, raucous a bunch as I’ve seen here.


Posted by Jon Jordan from Tampa, FL on 04/19/11 at 11:58 AM ET

Evilpens's avatar

except the Noisemakers I didn’t think it was any more than normal

Posted by Evilpens on 04/19/11 at 11:59 AM ET


It seemed pretty loud to me, and i was sitting on a couch in front of the tv.  You could tell how loud it was after TB tied it up, and you could tell how loud it was in contrast by how quiet it was after the penguins scored the first 2 goals of the game.

Posted by gretzky_to_lemieux on 04/19/11 at 12:05 PM ET

Evilpens's avatar

GtoL take away the Stupid ASS noisemakers & it was Normal, TB did the Noisemaker thing because they knew the crowd wasn’t that LOUD

Posted by Evilpens on 04/19/11 at 12:13 PM ET

Jon Jordan's avatar

All I can tell you is that it was the loudest I’ve ever heard that building and that entails hundreds of games for me.

I had to find a stairwell just to be heard for my radio spots throughout.

If you don’t want to take my word for it, there’s not much else I can do.

Those stupid little drums really had little to do with the noise level.


Posted by Jon Jordan from Tampa, FL on 04/19/11 at 12:21 PM ET


All I can tell you is that it was the loudest I’ve ever heard that building and that entails hundreds of games for me.

Did you happen to see the kid/man in the bright green spandex suit against the glass on the end of the ice where the Penguins shot twice?  It was someone imitating the guys from Vancouver.

Posted by gretzky_to_lemieux on 04/19/11 at 01:21 PM ET

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