Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Dan Rosen of NHL.com,
The Pittsburgh Penguins' goalie debate will continue until at least Tuesday morning.
Penguins coach Mike Sullivan did not announce if Marc-Andre Fleury or Matt Murray would be the starting goalie in Pittsburgh's must-win Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final when he met with the media before boarding the charter flight to Tampa on Monday.
The Tampa Bay Lightning lead the best-of-7 series 3-2 and can close it out in Game 6 at Amalie Arena on Tuesday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).
"I'll have a decision in the morning," Sullivan said.
Sullivan called the decision a "tough one" to make.
"It's just a tough circumstance," he said. "We believe in the guys that we have. We think we have quality people. But it's an imperfect situation so all things considered we're trying to make the best decisions that we can, that we think give the best chance to win. That's what we do and that's what we go with. We'll continue to do that."
from Tom Gulitti of NHL.com,
The Tampa Bay Lightning could have come up with a lengthy list of reasons to become discouraged in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Final against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday.
First was the goal they gave up to Brian Dumoulin with less than a second remaining in the first period. Then came another goal they allowed to Chris Kunitz with 49.6 seconds remaining in the second.
Throw in the Ryan Callahan shot that somehow stayed out instead of tying the game with 3:52 remaining in regulation, and the Lightning easily could have thought that it wasn't their night.
But if they were the kind to give up easily, they never would have gotten this far. So they kept plugging away and eventually were rewarded in a 4-3 overtime victory at Consol Energy Center that moved them within one win of returning to the Stanley Cup Final.
"I'm not surprised," Tampa Bay defenseman Victor Hedman said after Tyler Johnson's goal 53 seconds into sudden death gave the Lightning a 3-2 lead in the best-of-7 series. "I know what kind of team we have in here, the kind of resiliency we have. We showed it again [Sunday], being down two goals against a great team. We never gave up. We gave up two goals late in periods and we still found a way to battle back."
from Chris Johnston of Sportsnet,
Now for the toughest decision of the Pittsburgh Penguins‘ season.
Do you stick with Marc-Andre Fleury or turn the crease back over to 21-year-old Matt Murray with everything on the line?
There is no easy answer, no obvious answer. The danger in giving Fleury his first start in more than seven weeks on Sunday was that he might deliver an uneven performance that left the Penguins one loss away from a summer of regret.
That’s where they find themselves now after blowing 2-0 and 3-2 leads before Tyler Johnson had a shot go off his pants and in for the overtime winner.
Fleury was far from the only reason Pittsburgh fell behind the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-2 in this Eastern Conference Final, but he did acknowledge feeling rusty. He stopped just 21 of 25 shots on net.
“It wasn’t the best I’ve felt in a game, but still though I’ve been practising a lot,” he said. “I should have been better, especially on that first goal (by Alex Killorn). That was stupid. Tough to lose.”
Watch the game highlights below...
Tampa Bay @ Pittsburgh 8:00 PM ET NBCSN, CBC & TVAS
Series tied 2-2 and Marc-Andre Fleury starts in goal for the Penguins tonight.
Trevor Daley is out for the Penguins with a broken ankle while Ben Bishop and Steven Stamkos remain out for the Lightning.
Feel free to discuss the game.
from Tom Gulitti of NHL.com,
Here are 5 keys for Game 5:
MURRAY TO FLEURY
Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury will make his first start since he sustained a concussion on March 31 against the Nashville Predators. He has been medically cleared since May 2 and has been dressing as rookie Matt Murray's backup, but his only game action was a seven-save outing in the third period of a 4-3 loss in Game 4 on Friday.
After resisting the temptation earlier in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, coach Mike Sullivan is turning to the 31-year-old Sorel, Quebec native at a pivotal juncture in the series. All eyes will be on Fleury to see if he has any rust from his long layoff....
The loss of Trevor Daley to a broken ankle is a significant one for the Penguins. The 32-year-old defenseman's puck-moving skill and skating ability are integral parts of the Penguins' transition game and he ranks second on the team in averaging 22:08 in ice time per game.
Olli Maatta is likely to get the call in Daley's place. A healthy scratch the past three games, Maatta, 21, needs to elevate his play after struggling in Game 1 of this series, and at times in the first two rounds against the New York Rangers and Washington Capitals.
"It doesn't matter what day it is, you have to be ready to play the next game," Maatta said. "You never know what's going to happen. You've just got to make sure you're ready."
from Ron Cook of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,
Let me explain why the Penguins still will win the series in six games.
Marc-Andre Fleury will play well in goal the rest of the way. It’s not as if rookie Matt Murray played poorly Friday night when he was benched after the second period. His teammates were lousy around him. It’s just time for Mike Sullivan to go back to Fleury — the Penguins’ best player all season — after getting him some action in Game 4 for the first time since Fleury left the lineup with a concussion after the March 31 game against Nashville. The other players love Fleury, easily the most popular player in the room. They will rally around him, just as they did Friday night when they scored three third-period goals but ran out of time.
Olli Maatta, who was benched for the past three games after a series of mistakes earlier in the playoffs, will do a serviceable job filling in for injured Trevor Daley, who went down in Game 4 with what looked to be a serious left leg injury. Daley’s loss can’t be overestimated. It is significant because of his quickness, puck-moving ability and overall defensive skills. But Maatta has too much ability and too much pride not to bounce back. All of the defensemen will play better around Fleury. Letang, for sure, won’t lose his mind again, although Boyle will do everything he can to tempt him.
Kessel will continue to torment Tampa Bay goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy. He scored the Penguins’ first goal in Game 4 and has points — five goals and four assists — in six consecutive games. Kessel is feeling it like never before in his career. You could see it Friday night the way he fired 10 shots at Vasilevskiy, six making it on net. You could see it the way he chirped at Vasilevskiy after his latest goal.
from Seth Rorabaugh of Empty Netters at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,
First things first, head coach Mike Sullivan had no updates on defenseman Trevor Daley who left the game at 10:32 of the second period. Battling for a puck in the Penguins' left corner, Daley and right winger Ryan Callahan collided. Daley went down in a heap and had trouble recovering to his skates.
Daley needed assistance off the ice and into the dressing room. He did not return. He left Amalie Arena on crutches.
Sullivan suggested he could have some information Saturday.
As far as the game goes, the Penguins got thoroughly outplayed for the first 40 minutes. Almost literally from the start, they were chasing the Lightning. They gave up a goal less than 30 seconds into play and were playing from behind the entire night. They scraped out three goals in the third period to make it interesting and really came close to tying the game a few times. But as captain/center Sidney Crosby said, "We didn't deserve to win."
The Lightning is a very good team. Despite what Games 2 and 3 looked like as far as the possession battle was concerned, this wasn't going to be a mismatch in favor of the Penguins the way the first and second rounds were against the Rangers and Capitals respectively. The Lightning can play with the Penguins when it comes to speed and possession.
Tonight, they were better at the Penguins' own game.
See the Daley injury below.
from Chris Johnston of Sportsnet,
If you’re following this Eastern Conference Final closely, you might as well go ahead and clear your schedule for next Thursday night.
That’s when Game 7 between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Tampa Bay Lightning is scheduled.
It’s not currently necessary, but it probably will be.
The way the Lightning responded here in Game 4 all but guaranteed it. They hadn’t played particularly well the previous two games and were backed into a corner. On Friday night, Tampa built a 4-0 lead by the second intermission and gutted through a furious Penguins push over the final 20 minutes to even the series.
“We’re a good character team,” said defenceman Anton Stralman. “I think we know our weaknesses and we know how to change from game to game if something was bad before. We certainly did tonight.
“I thought we upped our game, all over the ice, all three zones. Battle levels, everything.”
Highlights are below...
Pittsburgh @ Tampa Bay8:00 PM ET NBCSN, CBC & TVAS
Penguins lead the seried 2-1 and with a win tonight, they will be playing at home on Sunday night with a chance to advance to the Stanley Cup Final.
Do the Lightning have enough in them to force this into a long series? We are about to find out.
Discuss the game if you so desire.
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