Game 4 between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday was not short on drama. After taking a four-goal lead into the third, the Lightning were able to escape the Penguins’ rally with a 4-3 win that tied the Eastern Conference finals.
Here’s who stood out to us:
Ryan Callahan, Tampa Bay Lightning
Callahan carried the Lightning on his back for the first 10 minutes of the game in one of the most amazing displays of individual determination in recent memory. He got his team on the board just 27 seconds into the game—the second-fastest goal from the start of a game in franchise history—with a deft re-direct of a Victor Hedman point blast, then added four more shots (and two more A-plus scoring chances) on his next two shifts. And that hit/takeaway combo play on Evgeni Malkin? Mwah! That's leadership.
Jonathan Drouin, Tampa Bay Lightning
Drouin made a costly mistake that ended up in back of Tampa Bay’s net in Game 3. In Game 4, he made amends. He made a brilliant defensive play to snuff out a breakaway attempt by Eric Fehr, then moments later scored his third goal of the series on the power play to stake the Bolts to a 3-0 lead.
Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins
To be fair, he was only a factor for the final 20 minutes but in that span he did everything but win the game for the Pens. The big man delivered a dominant third period that featured three shots, three hits and his first goal since the opener of the second-round series against the Washington Capitals. That nine-game dry spell behind him, he could be primed to take over this series.