Just over 5 minutes into the start of Game 6 last night, Jonathan Drouin scored to give the Tampa Bay Lightning a 1-0 lead. The sold out crowd at Amalie Arena was pumped. With the Lightning potentially able to clench the series at home and head to the Stanley Cup Finals for the second year in a row, this was exactly how they wanted to start the game.
Their propulsion was halted, however, when Pittsburgh Penguins’ head coach Mike Sullivan challenged the goal, and it was determined that Drouin started offsides when he entered into the zone. The goal was cleared from the scoreboards and social media, along with the team’s momentum.
This was a huge break for the Penguins and they took advantage of it. By the end of the 2nd it was 3-0, Pens, and they'd outshot the Lightning 26-11. While the Bolts nearly doubled that in the 3rd, the Lightning couldn't stop the Pens from scoring 2 more goals on their way to a 5-2 victory.
“They played better than us for two periods,” Cooper said. “That was it. All of their players pretty much played better than all of our players for 40 minutes. Our players probably played better than them for 20 minutes.”
After the Lightning’s first goal was erased in the 1st, they didn’t really start playing again until the 3rd. They did gave the fans a glimmer of hope, though, when Boyle narrowed the score to 3-2 in just over 7 minutes.
Penguins coach Mike Sullivan chose to put rookie goalie Matt Murray back in for Game 6 after testing out veteran goalie Marc-Andre Fleury in Game 5. That was Fleury’s first start since March, when he suffered a concussion. Murray was given quite the challenge in the 3rd, and saved 17 SOG.
With 2:08 left in the game, the Pens’ Bryan Rust expanded their lead to 4-2, followed by an empty-netter a minute and 14 seconds later.
The Pittsburgh Penguins rose to the challenge and forced Game 7 in the Eastern Conference Finals last night. The final showdown will be on Thursday back in Pittsburgh. The winning team will play either the San Jose Sharks or the St. Louis Blues.
Game 7 of the best-of-seven series will be played on Thursday, May 26th at the Consol Energy Center at 8 p.m.