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game recap

Lightning win Game 4, even series

Tampa Bay holds off Penguins rally, ties Eastern Final

by Corey Long / Correspondent

TAMPA -- The Tampa Bay Lightning scored in the first minute, built a big lead, and then held on to defeat 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 with Game 5 at Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh on Sunday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).

Tyler Johnson scored after he was injured during warmups, and Andrei Vasilevskiy made 35 saves for the Lightning, who led 4-0 before the Penguins scored three times in the third period.

"We were not the more determined team for the first half of the game," Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan said. "They are a good team, and we knew this was going to be a hard game."

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

Ryan Callahan gave the Lightning a 1-0 lead 27 seconds into the first period with his second goal of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Callahan redirected a slap shot from Victor Hedman that went over goalie Matt Murray's glove.

"We wanted to have a good start, and obviously when you score on the first shift it helps and it gets the team going," Callahan said. "Overall, that was our main concentration. I thought we had a good start in Game 3 and let it slip after about 10 minutes. So it was important for us to continue that push and continue that momentum."

The goal was the second-fastest to start a playoff game in Lightning history, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Adam Hall scored 13 seconds into Game 2 of the 2011 Eastern Conference Final against the Boston Bruins.

Andrej Sustr scored his first goal at 14:28 of the first period to give the Lightning a 2-0 lead. Alex Killorn dropped a pass to Nikita Kucherov down the left side; he passed to Sustr, who joined the rush late and was uncovered, for a goal into an open net.

"I was trying to jump up the play there and beat [Pittsburgh's] forwards up the ice," Sustr said. "[Kucherov] made a great play through the defenseman and found me on the back door, and it was a little bit of an easy job to put it in the open net."

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

Jonathan Drouin scored on a power play 14:38 into the second period after Penguins defenseman Kris Letang was called for two minor penalties. Drouin had the puck in the slot and tried to make a pass to Ondrej Palat in front, but the puck deflected off Palat's skate back to Drouin, who scored into the open side of the net.

Tampa Bay extended its lead to 4-0 at 17:38 when Johnson scored his sixth goal. He tipped in a pass from Kucherov that took a funny bounce off his stick and went over Murray's glove.

Johnson played wearing a full shield after he was hit in the face by a deflection of his shot before the game.

"It doesn't matter how you get there," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "Sure we elevated the heart rate of 18,000 people. We felt we deserved to be where we were. Did I think [Johnson's] goal was going to end up being the game-winner? No, I didn't. But I didn't think we ever really lost control of the game."

Murray made 26 saves and was replaced by Marc-Andre Fleury to start the third period. It was Fleury's first game since March 31; he had been sidelined by a concussion.

Video: PIT@TBL, Gm4: Malkin winds through traffic and scores

Pittsburgh made a push in the third period starting with Phil Kessel's eighth goal, a wrist shot that beat Vasilevskiy on the stick side that made it 4-1 at 1:18. Nick Bonino was able to control a loose puck off a bounce and sent a pass to Kessel in stride with a clear path to the net.

"There's no comfortable lead in this league," Letang said. "Sometimes things aren't going to go your way and you have to refocus. We're capable of doing a lot of things out there, but you have to have the right mindset. You saw that in the third period."

Evgeni Malkin scored his first goal since April 28 to make it 4-2 at 11:13. Chris Kunitz scored a power-play goal off a rebound with 6:52 left to make it 4-3.

"If you look at the series, whoever is going to win the 50-50 battles and put pucks in deep [will win]," Kunitz said. "If you start turning pucks over, [Tampa Bay] is potent on the rush. They score goals, they like to spread the zone and hit guys late [with passes]. We have to do a better job to make sure we have the details down and putting pucks in deep and play more in their end."

Penguins defenseman Trevor Daley left the game with 9:07 left in the second period after taking a hit from Callahan on the boards. Daley was unable to put any weight on his left leg as he was helped off the ice. Sullivan did not provide an update afterward, but Daley left the arena on crutches.

Video: Lightning hold off Penguins in Game 4, even series

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