Seen Stamkos? Before today’s Game 5 if you said you had seen Steve Stamkos you’d be a bad liar. Today changed all of that as Stamkos scored twice to help the Lightning blow out the Pittsburgh Penguins 8-2 and force a Game 6 back in Tampa on Monday.
Stamkos wasn’t the only two-goal scorer in this game as Simon Gagne and Pavel Kubina each scored twice while Vincent Lecavalier and Dominic Moore each added a goal of their own while Dwayne Roloson was able to play it cool and saving 31 shots to help Tampa draw to within 3-2 in the series.
The Lightning were able to blitz the Penguins and starting goalie Marc-Andre Fleury for four goals in the first 25 minutes of the game chasing Fleury after making just 10 saves on 14 shots. Brent Johnson would relieve him and fare no better allowing four goals on 11 shots. While the Lightning have struggled to score goals and generate shots in this series, they found the net in a big way with help from the power play as the Lightning went 4-7 on the man advantage.
The biggest development in this game aside from the win for the Lightning was the breakout games for Stamkos and Gagne. Both guys have been silent all series and with how streaky both guys are as goal scorers, the Penguins should be a bit worried about seeing both guys find the net twice this afternoon. Stamkos also added an assist to make it a three point game for him and if he’s found his way, the Penguins have another offensive wizard to worry about. Amazingly enough, the Lightning’s best player in the playoffs, Martin St. Louis, was kept out of the net but still assisted on two goals.
For Pittsburgh, getting blown out this badly doesn’t sting as bad the way a one-goal loss or an overtime loss would feel. After the game gets to 5-0 or, in this case, 7-0 at one point you let it all roll off your back and start to think ahead to the next game. Getting blown out, while appearing impressive, doesn’t sit and fester in a player’s mind as badly. The Penguins felt very comfortable playing in Tampa Bay for Games 3 and 4 and won both of them. Expect them to be equally on point in Game 6. Marc-Andre Fleury won’t get eaten alive in Game 6 again and the Penguins will make sure not to be as reckless with the penalties or their power play.
In other words, re-rack it for Monday night in Tampa and let’s see it again. The key now is whether or not Stamkos and Gagne’s offensive spark today is what the doctor ordered for the Lightning to press forward through this series.