The Tampa Bay Lightning need to do two things to avoid going home down 2-0 in their NHL playoff series with the Pittsburgh Penguins: find a way to beat goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury and stop taking penalties.
"We have to do the same thing tonight - get in his face," Lightning forward Ryan Malone said Friday morning of Fleury, his former teammate-turned-sparring partner. "We've got to be around the net and take his eyes away [from the puck]as best you can."
This was duly noted by Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma.
"We have to get to Ryan Malone before he gets to the crease and sets up his tripod," Bylsma said.
Lightning head coach Guy Boucher spent the last couple of days saying his team deserved the penalty calls in the first game that kept his best players on the bench through much of the second period but hinting there must be something amiss because Pittsburgh had six power plays to Tampa's one. But he did allow his players' collective playoff inexperience (eight Lightning skaters are in their first NHL playoff series) had something to do with it.
Malone said Game 2 on Friday night should be easier for his younger teammates.
"They will know what to expect," he said. "I was telling the college guys it's a lot like college where you play two games a week and sit around all week getting amped up for them."
The Lightning out-hit the Penguins 44-35, which is part of the reason for the disparity in penalties, although the Bolts say they are not going to ease off on their physical play. At least part of the hitting strategy is meant to disrupt the games of the Penguins' top offensive players like James Neal, Jordan Staal and Alexei Kovalev.
"It's important to make the skill guys start and stop as opposed to keeping their speed," defenceman Eric Brewer said. "You can't let them keep their rhythm. The guys who get a lot of minutes, you have to make sure they earn them by being physical."