Two of the game's most significant moments occurred in the final minute of the third period. Victor Hedman scored a power play goal at 19:03, breaking a 2-2 tie. Then, with the Penguins pressuring after having pulled goalie Tristan Jarry for an extra attacker, Andrei Vasilevskiy made a lunging glove save on Kris Letang with less than a second remaining. Vasilevskiy snagged the puck out of midair right at the goal line. After a lengthy review, the league could not determine that the puck crossed the goal line.
Don't dismiss what happened in the first 59 minutes, though. The Lightning were coming off Saturday's lopsided loss to Colorado. Just as they have done in the games following other disappointing defeats this season, the Lightning delivered a strong bounce-back performance.
Yes, it's true that the Lightning didn't play a perfect game. They made some coverage mistakes, two of which led to the Pittsburgh goals. There were a few momentum swings along the way, so the Penguins did enjoy some segments when they applied pressure in the Lightning's defensive zone.
But for the majority of the night, the Lightning carried play. They limited turnovers, were hungry for pucks, displayed a shooting mentality on Jarry (they posted a season-high 48 shots), owned more of the game's scoring chances, and consistently got traffic to the front of the Pittsburgh net. Jarry had an excellent night, denying most of Tampa Bay's Grade-A scoring chances. He couldn't be faulted for the ones that beat him. Two Lightning goals came on deflections. On the other - Hedman's PPG - Ondrej Palat screened Jarry. Palat jumped out of the way of the puck just as it sailed past.
So while the outcome came down to those two moments in the last minute, the Lightning played a solid, overall game. They'll look to build on it when they host Nashville on Saturday.
One more takeaway. This gets reinforced whenever I see the Penguins. Sidney Crosby is amazing. There's simply no part of his game in which he doesn't excel. Even on this night, a contest in which his team was playing the second half of a back-to-back and, as mentioned above, the Pens ceded most of the puck possession to the Lightning, Crosby was a difference-maker just about every time he stepped on the ice. His talent, hockey IQ, and compete-level are second-to-none.
Lightning Radio Three Stars of the Game (as selected by Phil Esposito):
- Andrei Vasilevskiy - Lightning. 37 saves, including glove stop in final second.
- Tristan Jarry - Penguins. 45 saves.
- Sidney Crosby - Penguins. Assist.