Lightning beat Penguins, even series at 1-1

Eric Brewer scored a goal and two assists and 41-year-old Dwayne Roloson made 35 saves as the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-1, tying the best-of-seven series 1-1 on Friday.

After being held scoreless in Game 1, Tampa Bay responded with three goals in the first period alone.

Brewer, Vincent Lecavalier, and Nate Thompson each scored in the opening stanza to ease Tampa’s nerves, allowing the team to take control of the game.

Lightning forward Martin St. Louis, who fractured three teeth during Game 1 and required root canal surgery, scored late in the second period and Mattias Ohlund added an empty-net goal. Simon Gagne added three assists while Victor Hedman and Steve Downie each had a helper.

The Pittsburgh Penguins entered the game looking for the 2-0 series lead but fell behind early and were unable to come back.

Craig Adams scored the lone Pens goal and Marc-Andre Fleury struggled, making only 16 saves after shutting out Tampa in Game 1. Pittsburgh’s power play has been non-existent in the first two games, going a combined 0-for-13.

PITTSBURGH, TAMPA BAY BOXSCORE

Tampa coach Guy Boucher shuffled all four forward lines in hopes of finding more offence and it paid off immediately.

Pittsburgh winger Maxime Talbot took a slashing penalty 1:21 into the game, giving the Lightning an early power play. Unfortunately for Tampa, St. Louis went to the box for a hooking penalty 16 seconds later, negating the man advantage.

On the ensuing 4-on-4, Brewer opened the scoring with the third playoff goal of his career. Pens defenceman Kris Letang was caught deep in his zone, allowing Brewer to capitalize at the 2:02 mark of the first period. Gagne and Hedman assisted on the  goal.

A few minutes later, Pens centre Jordan Staal took a boarding penalty for hitting Ohlund from behind.

During the power play, St. Louis recovered the puck in the corner, allowing Gagne to spot Lecavalier in front of the net. He made no mistake putting the Lighting up 2-0.

Late in the first period, Thompson made it 3-0 after Downie stole the puck from Pittsburgh’s Paul Martin and fired a low shot at the pads of Fleury. Thompson capitalized on the rebound, burying it into the open cage and pushing Tampa’s lead to 3-0.

At 9:08 of the second, Adams broke Roloson’s shutout attempt when Arron Asham stole the puck from the Tampa goalie and fed it to his teammate.

Pittsburgh pushed to narrow the gap before the end of the second but were stymied by Roloson. The team’s best chance came when Mark Letestu beat the Lightning goalie but hit the post, keeping the score 3-1.

St. Louis restored Tampa’s three-goal lead with 14 seconds remaining in the second period. Brooks Orpik‘s cross-checking penalty at 19:39 allowed St. Louis to convert from a bad angle for the power-play goal, making it 4-1.

The Pens were unable to break through the Lightning’s defence in the final period as Tampa kept Pittsburgh to the outside and allowed Roloson to earn his first post-season victory in five years.

Sidney Crosby (concussion) continues to practice with his teammates but has not been cleared for contact and did not play in Game 2. His status remains doubtful.

The series now moves to Tampa when the Bolts host the next contest on Monday at St. Pete Times Forum.