Admit it, when Phil Kessel scored in the first period to give Pittsburgh a 2-0 lead over Tampa Bay at PPG Paints Arena Thursday, you thought the Lightning were in deep trouble.
Tampa Bay entered Pittsburgh having lost two-consecutive games for the first time all season. Earlier Thursday, the Lightning learned they'd be without All-Star goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy indefinitely as he recovers from a lower-body injury. And the Bolts came into the game against the Penguins giving up the opening goal in eight of their nine previous games.
So what do the Lightning do?
They promptly go out and give up two goals, both on the power play, in the first period for the third game in a row.
For some reason, it seemed the hockey gods had fallen out of favor with the Lightning.
But then Brayden Point proved he's no mere mortal.
Point recorded a natural hat trick, his first hat trick of any kind in the NHL, all three goals coming on the power play, to bring the Bolts from two goals down to one goal up. Yanni Gourde netted the eventual game-winner at 7:56 of the second period for his NHL-leading fifth game-winning goal of the season. And the Lightning gained a huge road win in a city where regular season success has been hard to come by (that was just the Bolts' second regular season win in Pittsburgh since 2010-11).
How did it all come to fruition?
Let's break it down in 3 Things we learned from a powerful win in the Steel City.
Video: TBL@PIT: Point completes hat trick of PPGs
1. POINTING THE WAY
Brayden Point inserted his name in both the Lightning and the NHL record books with his remarkable feat Thursday night.
Point scored his first career hat trick. It was a natural hat trick. All three goals came on the power play, only the second time in Lightning history a player has scored a natural hat trick with three power-play goals (also: Nikita Kucherov on Feb. 27, 2017 versus Ottawa).
Point's three goals came within a span of 1:31 between the end of the first period and the beginning of the second period. That proved to be the fastest three goals by a Lightning player in franchise history and the sixth-fastest three goals by a player in the NHL (second-fastest in the modern era, which started with the 1967-68 season).
Point's three goals in 91 seconds were also the second-fastest three goals by a player on the road in the NHL.
"That's pretty cool," Point said after the game of his historic night. "Obviously just a couple 5-on-3 situations, you're going to get put out in those spots and guys found me. It's pretty cool."
Point ended a season-long three-game scoring drought emphatically. He continues to pace the Lightning for goals and scoring and now ranks tied for third in the NHL for goals.
"It's just great to see because he's such a hard worker, plays the game the right way," Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said. "You like to see those guys get rewarded and he was."
Video: Brayden Point on his natural Hat Trick
2. THE TURNING POINT
The Lightning gave up a pair of power-play goals in the first period to dig themselves a 2-0 hole for the third-consecutive game.
The task appeared daunting: rallying from a two-goal deficit in Pittsburgh, a place where Tampa Bay had little success of late, against a slumping but still dangerous Penguins team featuring superstars like Evgeni Malkin, Phil Kessel and Patric Hornqvist.
With 23 seconds to go in the first period, however, the Lightning were gifted a 5-on-3 situation when Evgeni Malkin was whistled for tripping Erik Cernak and, with action continuing on the delayed penalty, Phil Kessel slashing Alex Killorn.
Ten seconds into the 5-on-3 advantage, Matt Cullen tripped J.T. Miller to raise the arm for another penalty. But before that penalty could be called, Point got the puck in the left circle and sniped a shot over the left shoulder of Penguins goalie Matt Murray, pinging the pipe as the puck went in and beating the buzzer with just three seconds remaining in the period.
"I think going into the 2nd period 2-1 was momentum for us," Point said.
Getting the goal so early in the 5-on-3 provided the Lightning with another extended two-man advantage situation when the second period began. And Point was again able to capitalize, Nikita Kucherov slipping a pass to Steven Stamkos in the slot, the Lightning captain faking a shot and dishing toward the back post for Point to one-time into the opening.
And since that score came just 41 seconds into the second period, the Lightning still had over a minute left on a traditional 5-on-4 power play.
They needed just 47 seconds.
Point netted the hat trick after converting a well-schemed passing sequence from Kucherov in the right circle to J.T. Miller down low to Point in the slot to bury, one-touch passing all around to set up Point's one-timer.
In the span of a minute-and-a-half of game action, the Lightning went from down 2-0 to leading 3-2. But it all got started with that late first period goal that allowed the Bolts to remain on the power play for considerable time to start the second.
"We knew we had the extended 5-on-3, so it was imperative for us to score at least one," Stamkos said. "Obviously you get one at the end of the period, it's nice. You're feeling good about your game heading into the second, and then we get one quick and get a chance to stay on the power play and bury another one. That's a huge momentum swing in a game. You go from being down 2-0 a minute and a half ago in the time of the game and then you're up 3-2. Big goals by the power play today."
Video: TBL@PIT: Domingue gets across to rob Malkin
3. FENDING OFF THE PENS
Hornqvist scored his second goal of the game -- the only non power-play goal in the game -- three minutes after the Lightning took the lead to level the score once again 3-3 at 4:29 of the second period.
Yanni Gourde put the Bolts back in front three-and-a-half minutes later on Tampa Bay's fourth power-play goal of the evening.
And then the Lightning went to work shutting down the Penguins over the final 30 minutes of the game to escape Pittsburgh with the thrilling 4-3 win.
Tampa Bay's victory won't look like a defensive masterpiece on the scoresheet because of the amount of goals given up. But the job the Lightning did over the final half of the game throttling down the Penguins' high-powered attack was almost as impressive as the job the power play did scoring on four of seven opportunities.
"As the game went on, I thought we defended really well the last two periods," Cooper said. "You can sit there and look at the zone time or whatever, we didn't give up a bunch of scoring chances. I really liked that about the game tonight."
Louis Domingue, making two-consecutive starts for the first time this season, stopped 28-of-31 shots on the night and made several game-saving stops down the stretch to preserve the win.
"I thought Louis made some big saves in the third, and we played a solid third period to limit their chances," Stamkos said. "It's a good road win."
And it was a much-needed win considering all of the setbacks the Lightning were dealt the past couple of days.