Tempers flare and emotions boil up as the Lightning aim to tie the series 2-2, after a disappointing first game on home ice that ended with them losing 3-2 to the Pittsburgh Penguins, in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Bloody good hockey

Wednesday night is Game 4 night and it’s a matchup that the Penguins would love to win, and the Bay would hate to lose (obviously), as it would give Pittsburgh a commanding 3-1 series advantage to take home with them. However both teams will be without key players tonight. 

The NHL suspended both Tampa Bay’s Steve Downie and Pittsburgh’s Chris Kunitz for one game each, over separate incidents in their last meeting. The reasons for the suspensions were obvious enough, “Kunitz delivered an elbow directly to the head of his opponent (Simon Gagne)," the NHL's senior VP for hockey operations Colin Campbell said, and continued, “Downie left his feet and launched himself at the head of his opponent (Ben Lovejoy) and he came from a considerable distance, with speed and force.” 

Both players will be eligible for Game 5 in Pittsburgh though. Gagne was somewhat blasé about the incident, "It's playoff hockey," he said. "You're expecting those types of hits. You're expecting those dirty plays and you're expecting those big hits...that's part of the game and you need to be ready." 

If you like your hockey rough and raw then this is the 2011 NHL Playoff series for you, bones have truly been crunched and teeth have been lost in three action packed games, that has left flecks of 0+ on the ice. "You just hope that your players are able to play through it and you don't get your players injured too much and eventually you don't have the same team," Tampa Bay coach Guy Boucher said. "Everybody is scared of that. When you see your players go down, the first thing that comes to mind is, you hope you haven't lost another one."

The whiff of victory in Penguin nostrils (bills)

Regardless of tonight’s result Pittsburgh will enjoy home-ice advantage back home on Monday thanks to their hard-fought 3-2 win at St. Pete Times Forum which means the best the Lightning can take with them would be a tied series. 

The win was worth a small fortune to the fortunes of the Pittsburgh Penguins as they are still grinding out wins without injured stars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. It looks like everyone is keen to get in on the scoring as their seven goals have come from six different players. The goals have even come from Pittsburgh’s fourth line, Craig Adams, Mike Rupp and Arron Asham have made up three of their goals (and five points), plus Asham leads the team with 2 goals.

Tampa Bay Lightning’s Simon Gagne is well aware of the talent that the Penguins have at their disposal, "They play a little bit of a different style than when Malkin and Crosby are in the lineup, but even without them they are one of the best teams in the league, so no, we're not surprised by the way they play. They're very dangerous." the forward said.

The Lightning need to strike, and soon

Tampa Bay need to get back in their goal scoring groove, as the 5-1 Game 2 victory seems to be a misnomer sitting between a 3-0 shutout in game 1 and being restricted to just 2 goals in Game 3.  Kudos goes to Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis, made four of the team's seven goals in this series, but Steven Stamkos, who amassed 45 goals in the regular season, has only managed a single playoff point this series (his career first) with an assist on Monday.

Form may favour Pittsburgh, but Tampa Bay (and their fans) will be in no mood to go gently into Game 4, they’ll push the Penguins for all their worth as the spectre of Crosby’s return still hangs over the series and taking a 3-1 deficit up to Pittsburgh, might spell the beginning of the end for the Lightning. Expect action and goals galore on Wednesday night.

Prediction: Tampa Bay win 4-3 to tie the series 2-2