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The Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning in what was a heavily intense game 7. The Penguins will be advancing to the Stanley Cup Finals for the third time in the Sidney Crosby era, hoping to claim a 2-1 record in the Cup Finals under Crosby’s rein as leader of the Penguins.
Tampa Bay ended up playing world-class player and center, Steven Stamkos, in their second lineup behind Taylor Johnson who started the entire series in Stamkos’s absence due to a serious blood clot. Before the game, Stamkos hasn’t played a hockey game since March 31, but has warmed up in practices throughout this year’s playoffs. Goalie Ben Bishop remained out due to a leg injury he suffered in game 1 of this series, and Vasalesky remained the starting goaltender just as he did in games 2-6.
Game 7 was a low scoring, intense game full of checking and very fast back-and-forth play. The first period was pretty even, as the score at the end of the period was 0-0. Then, once the second period began, the game suddenly swung in Pittsburgh’s favor. The Penguins scored the first goal of the game which came towards the middle of the period. Tampa would answer minutes later, but then Pittsburgh immediately answered the game-tying goal, which ended up being the game winner as there would be no more goals scored the rest of the game. Both of Pittsburgh’s goals were credited to rookie Bryan Rust, and both assists came from former league MVP, Evgini Malkin.
The Pittsburgh Penguins will host the champions of the Western Conference, the San Jose Sharks, in game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals on Monday, May 30th. This will be San Jose’s first ever Stanley Cup appearance in their 25 year existence.