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Instant analysis: Penguins at Lightning, Game 4

Tampa Bay holds on despite shaky third period; Pittsburgh faces tough goalie decision for Game 5

by Tom Gulitti @tomgulittinhl / Staff Writer

TAMPA - The Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-3 in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Final at Amalie Arena on Friday. 

The best-of-7 series is tied 2-2.

Ryan Callahan's deflection goal 27 seconds into the game got the Lightning off to a fast start. Andrej Sustr, Jonathan Drouin and Tyler Johnson also scored as the Lightning jumped out to a 4-0 lead by the end of the second period. Victor Hedman, Alex Killorn and Nikita Kucherov each had two assists.

Video: PIT@TBL, Gm4: Callahan tallies in the first minute

Phil Kessel, Evgeni Malkin and Chris Kunitz scored third-period goals to pull the Penguins within one.

What we learned: The Lightning again proved how resilient they are. After being outplayed in losing Games 2 and 3, it appeared their run in the Stanley Cup Playoffs might soon be over, but they rebounded with their best effort of the series until they nearly let it slip away in the third period.

Hedman was dominant from the drop of the puck with his point shot being deflected in by Callahan to set the tone. Drouin bounced back from his mistake that led to the Penguins' first goal in the Lightning's 4-2 loss in Game 3 by back checking to hinder Eric Fehr's shot on a shorthanded breakaway and then scoring a power-play goal that made it 3-0 with 5:22 left in the second period.

Video: PIT@TBL, Gm4: Drouin pads the lead on the power play

Penguins rookie goaltender Matt Murray (four goals on 30 shots) made key saves to keep the score close for a while, but was replaced by veteran Marc-Andre Fleury to begin the third period.

What this means for the Penguins: They appeared to have the Lightning reeling after dominating the previous two games and had a chance to take a stranglehold on the series, but were sloppy and undisciplined in the first two periods before making their charge in the third. Now, they're in for a long series and coach Mike Sullivan faces a difficult decision on which goalie to start in Game 5 on Sunday.

What this means for the Lightning: They rebounded from a poor performance in Game 3 to even the series. They were fortunate to survive, however, after taking their foot off the gas in the third period.

Key moment: With the Lightning up 2-0 and on the power play, Penguins defenseman Kris Letang hit Drouin with the puck when shooting it to touch up on the delayed penalty at 11:38 of the second period. He then cross-checked Tampa Bay's Alex Killorn and picked up a roughing minor for wrestling with Brian Boyle in the scrum that ensued. The result was a four-minute power play for the Lightning. They converted with Drouin's goal to increase their lead to 3-0.

Video: PIT@TBL, Gm4: Johnson scores off Kucherov's feed

Unsung player of the game: Johnson took a puck in the mouth during pre-game warmups and missed the start of the game while getting repairs. He returned wearing a protective cage on his helmet before switching to a full visor and scored what turned out to be the winning goal with 2:12 left in the second period.

What's next: Game 5 is Sunday at Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).

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