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game recap

Penguins defeat Lightning, take 2-1 series lead

Kessel, Hagelin each has goal, assist; Pittsburgh regains home-ice advantage in Eastern Conference Final

by Corey Long / Correspondent

TAMPA -- Phil Kessel and Carl Hagelin each had a goal and an assist to help the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 4-2 win against the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Final at Amalie Arena on Wednesday.

Pittsburgh leads the best-of-7 series 2-1. Game 4 is in Tampa on Friday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).

After Hagelin opened the scoring late in the second period, Kessel scored his seventh goal of the postseason at 5:16 of the third to give the Penguins a 2-0 lead. Nick Bonino won a puck battle against Lightning forward Valtteri Filppula behind the net and passed it to Kessel, who beat goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy high to the glove side from close range.

"They are a responsible line on both ends," Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said of Hagelin, Bonino and Kessel. "[Bonino and Hagelin] obviously kill penalties and have great awareness defensively. I think [Kessel's] game has come a long way away from the puck. …They are a line that we have a comfort level with."

Video: PIT@TBL, Gm3: Hagelin nets rebound to give Pens lead

Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz also scored for the Penguins in the third period, and rookie Matt Murray made 26 saves for his ninth win in 12 starts in the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat scored for the Lightning, who have lost consecutive games for the first time in the postseason. Vasilevskiy made 44 saves.

"We have been to three playoffs together, and we have been in every different situation," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "Up two, down two, up 2-1, down 2-1, so it's nothing we haven't seen before."

Johnson answered for the Lightning 14 seconds after Kessel scored to cut the gap to 2-1. Nikita Kucherov carried the puck into the offensive zone and tied up Penguins defensemen Brian Dumoulin and Kris Letang, allowing Johnson to streak behind him uncovered with a clear path to the net for a backhand past Murray.

Video: PIT@TBL, Gm3: Kessel doubles lead on Bonino's dish

"You have to give them credit," Johnson said. "They play hard, they use each other very well. I thought we had a great first period. We were all over them, but that second period, we had a little bit of a letdown, and that just can't happen."

Crosby gave the Penguins a 3-1 lead at 10:50 with his second goal in the past two games and fifth of the playoffs. With Pittsburgh on a 4-on-3 power play, Evgeni Malkin found Crosby open at the right faceoff dot for a one-timer past Vasilevskiy.

"We were in a 4-on-3 with a one-timer on either side," Crosby said. "[Malkin] was in a good spot to shoot too - in the middle of the ice. He put a perfect pass there that I could shoot."

Kunitz made it 4-1 with an unassisted goal at 13:12, and Palat scored his fourth goal of the playoffs with 1:44 left.

Video: PIT@TBL, Gm3: Crosby tallies PPG on Malkin's feed

Hagelin opened the scoring with 10 seconds remaining in the second. Lightning forward Jonathan Drouin turned over the puck in the Pittsburgh zone, allowing the Penguins to break out on an odd-man rush. Kessel carried the puck into the Lightning zone and wristed a shot that Vasilevskiy saved but couldn't control, and Hagelin shot it into the open net for his fifth goal of the playoffs.

"Obviously, we had a really strong second period, and we deserved to score a couple goals," Hagelin said. "But [Vasilevskiy] played great. Anytime you can score 10 seconds before the period is over, it is definitely a momentum boost for your team."

Pittsburgh outshot Tampa Bay 38-16 in the second and third periods; the Lightning had a 12-10 advantage in the first.

Video: PIT@TBL, Gm3: Johnson trims deficit on drop feed

"I think we started off really good, with a nice push in the beginning," Lightning defenseman Anton Stralman said. "We almost weathered the storm in the second, but they got a late goal, and that was a big boost for them. We're not executing well, and they are taking advantage. They are getting a lot of zone time, and it's tough to defend a good offensive team like that."

With the shot disparity what it was, Murray didn't need to be great for the Penguins, but he made some big saves in the first period to keep it scoreless. He made a save on a Brian Boyle wrist shot at close range at 4:13 of the third period, then denied J.T. Brown on the rebound.

"I just try to do my job," Murray said. "My job is to stop the puck, keep the puck out of the net. I always have faith that [our] team is going to put the puck in the other net because of the roster we have here. We have so much skill offensively that I don't worry about whether or not we are scoring or whether guys are getting frustrated or not."

Video: Murray makes 26 saves as Pens claim 2-1 series lead

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