TAMPA -- The Pittsburgh Penguins continue to receive contributions throughout their lineup in the absence of some pretty significant pieces to the offensive puzzle.
On Monday, it was Tyler Kennedy's turn to earn the spotlight, scoring his first goal of the playoffs 2:43 into the third period as the Penguins scored a 3-2 victory against the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 3 of this Eastern Conference Quarterfinal at St. Pete Times Forum.
Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury rebounded well following a 5-1 loss in Game 2 on Friday, turning aside 25 shots in the triumph that gives the Penguins a 2-1 lead in the best-of-7 series that resumes here Wednesday night.
"We thought they came out harder than us in the opening two games and we wanted to set the tone this time," Kennedy said. "We did well getting pucks deep. We have a lot of good leaders in here and they show the way for us. No matter if the game is home or away, it was good to see."
Kennedy's goal came just 31 seconds after Martin St. Louis has pulled the home team all the way back from a 2-0 hole. Jordan Staal started the sequence when he won an offensive-zone draw back to the point. The initial shot was stopped by goalie Dwayne Roloson, but the rebound was directed right to Kennedy, who jammed his attempt into the open side of the cage from the bottom of the circle at 2:43.
"Staalsy won the puck back and it went D-to-D and my centerman and left winger went hard to the net," Kennedy said. "The puck was just sitting there and I just kind of put it in."
Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma was pleased with the play of Kennedy's line with center Staal and left wing Chris Kunitz.
"I liked the way that line played," he said. "TK could have had a couple more. He goes to the net and he's added offensive punch when we needed it. He comes up with the game-winner tonight. You have to have guys step up and score some goals; (Arron) Asham and TK both stepped up."
Lightning forward Simon Gagne was obviously disappointed with the quick turnaround following St. Louis' goal.
"We have to be ready," Gagne said. "Whoever goes on the ice must be ready that the next shift because it could be critical in the game. We came back and tied the game and those guys on the ice after that, playing 5-on-5, have to be ready for that big shift.
"We got caught on the faceoff and they scored that game winner. It's just one mistake and it's all about mistakes in the playoffs. We didn't have a lot of mistakes tonight, but each one did cost us a goal and one was a killer."
The Lightning pulled their goalie in the final minute but could not generate the equalizer. Craig Adams blocked one final attempt on a shot from the point with less than five seconds remaining.
"We played a pretty physical game, which is something we want to do every night," Adams said. "The first two games were physical from both sides and (Monday) was no different. It's the nature of playing hockey and it'll be physical from here on out."
The Lightning rallied from a two-goal deficit to pull even 2:12 into the third when St. Louis struck for his second power-play of the game. Pittsburgh defenseman Paul Martin was whistled for interfering with Vincent Lecavalier 1:12 into the third, setting up Tampa's third opportunity with the man advantage.
Roloson would keep the Lightning within one on an extraordinary stop off the stick of Chris Conner skating alone through the crease at the 8:48 mark. Conner's wrist shot from Roloson's right was somehow denied by the goalie's left pad.
"That's sports … it's a roller-coaster ride," said Roloson, who made 27 saves. "You have to have that same level throughout the whole game. The team that has that will probably win in the end."
The Lightning had halved the deficit to 2-1 on a power-play goal by St. Louis at 15:19 of the opening period. Gagne skated with the puck to the side of Fleury before throwing a pass in front. St. Louis took one stab at the disk before backhanding a shot between the goalie and the post.
The Penguins opened a 2-0 lead on goals by Maxime Talbot at 5:46 and Asham just 45 seconds later. Talbot's goal came off a transition following a tremendous body check by Tampa Bay's Steve Downie on Ben Lovejoy behind the Penguins cage. Instead of rallying the Lightning, however, the hit fired up the Penguins as Talbot eventually grabbed the loose puck and skated hard down his right wing before unleashing a wrist shot from the right circle that beat Roloson to the short side.
"Those are the little things about the playoffs that make it special," Bylsma said. "Ben took a hit to make a play under heavy pressure and he made the play around the wall. I'm just happy to see his name on that goal … to get rewarded."
Asham's 8th career playoff goal came off a 2-on-1 breakout with Michael Rupp. After banking a pass to himself along the right wing half boards, Rupp spotted Asham streaking down the opposite wing and feathered a pass underneath a Tampa Bay defenseman. Asham easily snapped his attempt past Roloson for the two-goal lead.
After combining for three goals in the opening period, the teams went scoreless in the second. It appeared as though each team wasn't willing to risk making a mistake and give its opponent an offensive opportunity. Both goalies were sharp throughout, though, with Roloson making his best save off a shot from the point by Zbynek Michalek and Conner on the doorstep at 5:13.
Pittsburgh earned its second power-play of the game 16:43 into the second when Downie was whistled for delay of the game, but the Lightning would ultimately deny the Penguins a 15th straight time with the man advantage in this series.
It wasn't without the help of Roloson, however. He stopped a shot from James Neal with his left pad following the ensuing face-off, before turning back a big shot from the point by Kris Letang and Alex Kovalev's rebound attempt at the right post a short time later.
Pittsburgh held 30-27 advantage in shots and has now outshot Tampa Bay in all three games. Letang had 5 of the team's 32 hits for the game while logging 24:32 of ice time. The Lightning finished 2-for-4 on the power-play and are now 4-for-11 in the series. The Penguins went scoreless on two chances with the man advantage and are now 0-for-15 in the series.
"I've liked some things but Tampa has done a good job getting pucks to the net and creating those second opportunities," Bylsma said. "There are some areas we have to do a better job at and win more puck battles. I do like the way our penalty-kill responded in third (when Rupp was whistled for roughing at 5:48 of the third) and stopped them."