PITTSBURGH -- Whether it was nerves or just a shock to their system, the nine playoff rookies in the Tampa Bay Lightning lineup might have been overwhelmed by the experience.
If they don't get up to speed in a hurry, they may exit the playoffs with barely a taste.
"After one game of the playoffs, hopefully they get the idea now," Tampa coach Guy Boucher said Friday morning as his team prepares for Game 2 against the Pittsburgh Penguins in their best-of-seven Eastern Conference quarter-final.
"We've bounced back all year long."
The Penguins were hardly dominant in a 3-0 victory in Wednesday's series opener. Other than an 18-second span in the third period where they scored two goals -- the third was an empty-netter -- the Pens had their hands full with the quick Lightning.
The glaring shortfall for the Lightning was the missing production from offensive dynamos Steven Stamkos, Vincent Lecavalier and Marty St. Louis.
With the Penguins defence cutting down on their time and space and Marc-Andre Fleury superb in the Penguins net, it was a frustrating night for the Lightning.
"I don't think they surprised us, I don't think we surprised them either," Boucher said. "I think it was a grind for both teams and they won the patience game."
Blowing the whistle
In his three press conferences since the opener, Boucher has pointedly mentioned the fact the Penguins had a 6-1 edge in power plays. While acknowledging that his team deserved to be penalized, the Lightning coach wondered how the Pens could get off so lightly.
Will that talk get into the heads of the officials Friday night?
"We have talked repeatedly on the ice about how we were playing stick-wise," Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma said. "I'm not sure talking to the media has an effect on the officials or not.
"We are aware we have to play a disciplined game and keep their power play off the ice."
Another gameday skate, another rigorous workout by Penguins captain Sidney Crosby but still no indication that he's even close to getting back in the lineup.
That doesn't mean Crosby hasn't been contributing, however. Bylsma said
"He's more in tune with watching games and what we can do (to improve)," Bylsma said. "What adjustments are we making and those types of things."
As good as he has looked in the mornings and as driven as Crosby is an athlete, Bylsma said he has not sensed frustration or anxiousness for the captain to return.
"I have not sensed any kind of pressure on Sid, that he feels, based on the fact that it's playoffs, to get back earlier. Not one bit."
Another reason the heat is on for the Lightning Friday night: The Penguins are 10-1 when they go up 2-0 in a series in which they hold home-ice advantage. This opening-round series is the eighth of the past 11 that the Pens have had the home-ice edge ... The Lightning, with far less playoff experience, is 2-4 when losing the opening game. Perhaps oddly, they are 1-1 when they trail 0-2 to begin a series. And this stat has to be encouraging: The Lightning is 3-0-0 playing in Game 2s of an Eastern Conference quarterfinal on the road.