PITTSBURGH – Steven Stamkos scored the first two playoff goals of his NHL career and the Tampa Bay Lightning emphatically avoided elimination with a convincing 8-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday in Game 5 of the first-round series.
Stamkos' 96 goals over the past two seasons led the NHL, but he had only one assist over the first four games of the series. He had three points on Saturday.
The Penguins, who lead the series 3-2, will get a second chance to advance Monday night at Tampa Bay.
Simon Gagne and Pavel Kubina both scored their first two goals of the series, captain Vincent Lecavalier added his second of the series, and Martin St. Louis had two assists for the Lightning, who set a franchise record for goals in a road playoff game and handed the Penguins their worst home playoff loss.
The road teams has won four consecutive games in the series, and Tampa Bay's victory was the 22nd by a visiting team in 36 NHL playoff games this season.
Pittsburgh's Mike Rupp and Chris Conner scored in the third period after Tampa Bay had taken a 7-0 lead, but by then it was obvious the Penguins would fail to become the first Eastern Conference team to advance to the second round. Pittsburgh is 0-5 under coach Dan Bylsma when it has the chance to eliminate an opponent at home.
The margin of victory was the largest for any playoff game this season.
Counting a 5-1 victory in Game 2, the Lightning have won two straight in Pittsburgh by a combined score of 13-3.
In Game 2, Tampa Bay scored twice in the first seven minutes and led 3-0 after one period. This time, the Penguins controlled much of the first 15 minutes before the Lightning stunned a Penguins' record crowd for an indoor home game with two goals in a span of 46 seconds.
Soon after Gagne slammed home a rebound of Teddy Purcell's shot off the crossbar, Stamkos broke out of his slump and made it 2-0 by deflecting Steve Downie's shot and tucking in the rebound.
Stamkos, who had 21 goals in his first 22 games this season, slowed down the stretch and through four playoff games. He was held without a shot in Pittsburgh's double-overtime Game 4 win.
Stamkos scored his second of the game seven minutes into the second period while the Lightning were on the power play. Tampa Bay scored three straight man-advantage goals to push the lead from 4-0 to 7-0.
But the Lightning strikes weren't limited to the power play. They came into the game with only three 5-on-5 goals in the series but had four in the first 26 minutes on Saturday.
The final one, Gagne's second goal of the game, chased Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury. He allowed four goals on 14 shots, and backup Brent Johnson fared worse, allowing four on only 11 shots.
Pittsburgh's penalty kill was the best in the NHL during the regular season, but the Lightning went 4-for-7 to make them 8-for-22 for the series. Dominic Moore had the final goal of the game, a power-play tally with 4:25 left.
NOTES: Fourteen of Tampa Bay's 18 skaters had at least a point; eight had at least two. ... Downie and Penguins LW Chris Kunitz each returned to the lineup after serving suspensions in Game 4. Downie had two assists. ... Penguins RW Alex Kovalev assisted on Rupp's goal, his 100th career playoff point. ... The standing-room crowd of 18,535 was the Penguins' 209th consecutive sellout. ... Tampa Bay was outshot 33-25, marking the first time the team with the most shots lost in the series. ... Rupp's goal was his first in the playoffs since scoring the winner in Game 7 of the 2003 Stanley Cup finals.