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Insider Only Game 4: More Bad than Good from Penguins as Series is All Tied Up

Lightning Get Back in the Series

The Tampa Bay Lightning evened up the best-of-seven series with a 4-3 victory in Game 4 as the series shifts back to Pittsburgh tied 2-2. Ryan Callahan set the tone on the very first shift of the game, scoring 27 seconds in, and the Lightning would lead 4-0 after two periods before Pittsburgh rattled off three goals in the final period for a wild finish.

Just like the first three games, the better team won Game 4.

“I don’t think we deserved [to win],” Sidney Crosby told reporters. “I think we all feel that way”

Tampa Bay got the start they desperately needed and a game they needed. The Lightning were able to do what the Rangers and President Trophy winning Capitals couldn’t do, avoid going down 3-1 to the Penguins.

The Penguins tonight looked like a team in the first period that truly thought this series was over after their masterful Game 3 win and thought things were going to be easy. They played loose, took foolish penalties, and played with no structure as the Lightning’s transition game exploited the Penguins left and right, while leaving their starting goaltender Matt Murray out to dry who was yanked after the second period in allowing four goals on 30 shots.

Will Murray be back in the net on Sunday? His performance in Game 3 and even tonight in giving up four goals did nothing for him to lose his job, but pressure is mounting on Mike Sullivan to turn to Fleury from those above Sullivan, sources say.

The Lightning in Game 4, at least through the first two periods frustrated the Penguins to the point that no other team has been able to do this post-season. Kris Letang lost his mind in the second period leading to a Jonathan Drouin power play goal to put the Lightning ahead 3-0. You also had bickering among the players and yelling from the bench at the refs. It was a frustrated group.

“We’d like him to handle it differently,” Mike Sullivan said of Letang. “He’s too important to our team and that’s what I told him.”

For Pittsburgh there wasn’t a full-out implosion and in the third period the Penguins roared back with goals from Phil Kessel, Evgeni Malkin, and Chris Kunitz as the Penguins came one goal away from forcing overtime in a game they were completely outplayed in for 65% of it.

Pittsburgh outshot Tampa Bay 16-7 in the third period and what the Penguins showed in the third period is what we’ve already known, when they hit their peak level the Lightning can’t play with them.

However, what the first forty minutes of Game 4 also showed that Game 1 previously showed along with a short stretch late in the first period of Game 2, when the Penguins level of play slips just a bit, and most importantly get out of their structure defensively, Tampa Bay can exploit them especially off the rush and in transition.

Odd-man rushes were 6-1 Tampa Bay through the first 30 minutes of the game.

There should probably be much more of a focus on the bad from Game 4 and the Trevor Daley injury than the Penguins thrilling third period surge.

We already know how resilient this team is and that they can come back from almost any deficit when they get things going.

What we don’t know, though, is whether they can replace Trevor Daley adequate enough against a rush and transition scoring team like the Lightning. Daley is far from a perfect product defensively but he’s such a key cog in what drives the Penguins’ engine in how they attack teams offensively.

There’s a major drop off from him to his replacements, Olli Maatta or Derrick Pouliot.

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About The Author

William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at wdepaoli@insidepittsburghsports.com

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