JOHNSTOWN, Pa. -- The fans in Johnstown, Pa., waited more than five months for the preseason game Tuesday at Cambria County War Memorial Arena between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Tampa Bay Lightning since the city won the inaugural title of Kraft Hockeyville USA in May.
They didn't have to wait long to have something to cheer about with the hometown Penguins scoring on the first shift in their 4-2 win.
Sergei Plotnikov's backhand beat Lightning goalie Kristers Gudlevskis 14 seconds into the first period to give the Penguins a 1-0 lead. Evgeni Malkin and Patric Hornqvist, Plotnikov's linemates, assisted on the goal, which thrilled the crowd crammed in the small arena.
The fans were mostly pro-Penguins; Johnstown is 90 miles from Pittsburgh and most of the residents are Penguins fans. Members from each team before the game said they expected it to feel like a playoff atmosphere, and it did all night in the sold-out arena with 4,000 fans waving rally towels and cheering "Let's go Pens!" most of the game.
Brian Boyle scored for the Lightning at 13:39 with a backhand from in close past Penguins goalie Matthew Murray. Ian Cole scored at 15:22 on a wrist shot from inside the left circle to give the Penguins a 2-1 lead.
As the winner of Kraft Hockeyville USA, War Memorial Arena received $150,000 in upgrades to the scoreboard, boards and lights.
Lightning forward Jonathan Drouin tied it 2-2 at 8:35 of the second period off a pretty passing play from Steven Stamkos and Ryan Callahan. Drouin skated into the zone and weaved around Penguins defenseman defenseman Ben Lovejoy before shooting over Murray's shoulder.
Malkin gave the Penguins their third lead at 11:42 of the second when he shoveled a rebound past Lightning goalie Kevin Poulin, who stopped Hornqvist's initial shot. Poulin replaced Gudlevskis midway through the period.
Pittsburgh defenseman Adam Clendening scored a shorthanded goal at 17:57 after missing the net on a 2-on-1 break. He took his rebound off the boards and threw the puck in front; it bounced off Poulin's back and went in for a 4-2 Penguins lead.
War Memorial Arena was home to the Johnstown Jets from 1950 through 1977 and several other hockey teams, including the Johnstown Chiefs of the ECHL (1987-2010) and the North American Hockey League's Johnstown Tomahawks, who currently play at the arena. It was made famous by the 1977 movie "Slap Shot," which filmed its hockey scenes there.
After the game, players from each team remained on the ice and gave autographed jerseys to 40 fans.
Forwards Sidney Crosby and Phil Kessel, and goalie Marc-Andre Fleury were among the Penguins who didn't play. Pittsburgh will play its third game in three nights Wednesday and used many players Tuesday who are fighting to make the roster.