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game recap

Stamkos scores first, Lightning hold off Penguins

Killorn has four assists, Vasilevskiy makes 36 saves

by Corey Long / NHL.com Correspondent

TAMPA -- Steven Stamkos scored his first goal in almost a year, and Slater Koekkoek scored the first two goals of his NHL career to help the Tampa Bay Lightning defeat the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-4 at Amalie Arena on Thursday.

Stamkos' goal, his first since Nov. 15, came on a power play and gave the Lightning a 3-1 lead at 3:49 of the second period. The center missed 65 games last season with a lateral meniscus tear in his right knee.

"I knew it was a matter of time, so I wasn't losing any sleep over it," Stamkos said. "I'm just happy to be playing hockey again and glad to be part of some wins here. I thought we came out strong against [the Washington Capitals, a 4-3 overtime win Monday] and followed that up for the most part. That's two good teams that have come in here and we've gotten two wins, so we'll look to build on that."

 

[WATCH: All Penguins vs. Lightning highlights]

 

Victor Hedman and Nikita Kucherov scored for the Lightning (3-1-0), and Alex Killorn had four assists. Andrei Vasilevskiy made 36 saves.

Jake Guentzel and Bryan Rust each had a goal and an assist for the Penguins (2-2-1). Conor Sheary and Matt Hunwick scored, and Antti Niemi made 29 saves.

Koekkoek finished a 3-on-1 in front of the net by slipping a backhand past Niemi to give the Lightning a 5-3 lead with 2:05 left in the second period.

Video: PIT@TBL: Stamkos scores PPG, ties club record

"I was joking that if me, [Tyler] Johnson and Killorn were on a 3-on-1, who would want the puck, and I would probably be your last option," Koekkoek said. "I was looking for [Tyler] back door, but the goalie was right on me, so a little fake and then he opened up his five-hole." 

Hunwick made it 5-4 when he scored on the rebound of a shot by Greg McKegg at 10:01 of the third period.

Sheary made it 3-2 at 8:58 of the second period when he broke into the zone off a pass from Chad Ruhwedel and beat Vasilevskiy with a wrist shot high on the stick side. Kucherov gave the Lightning a 4-2 lead at 9:49, and Rust scored a power-play goal at 14:24 on the rebound of a shot by Guentzel to make it 4-3.

Koekkoek's first NHL goal gave the Lightning a 1-0 lead at 6:07 of the first period. His slap shot from the point hit the stick of Penguins forward Tom Kuhnhackl and trickled past Niemi. The 23-year-old defenseman was playing his 43rd NHL game.

Video: PIT@TBL: Koekkoek tallies second goal with backhander

The Penguins tied the game 1-1 at 13:46 when Guentzel tipped in a centering pass from Kris Letang. It was Letang's 300th NHL assist in 608 games.

Hedman put the Lightning ahead 2-1 with a power-play goal that beat the buzzer at the end of the first period. Video review showed the shot crossed the goal line with 0.1 seconds remaining.

"We let them get out of range a couple of times, especially when they went up 5-3, I think that was a bit of a dagger for us," Sheary said. "We fought hard, especially in the third, had a lot of scoring chances, unfortunately we weren't able to put another one in."

 

Goal of the game

Kucherov took a feed from defenseman Braydon Coburn and his wrist shot from above the left circle beat Niemi over his glove to the far post.

Video: PIT@TBL: Kucherov nets wicked wrister, extends lead

 

Save of the game

Vasilevskiy denied Guentzel when he tried to go to the five-hole on a breakaway with 7:24 remaining in the third period. 

Video: PIT@TBL: Vasilevskiy denies Guentzel on the breakaway

 

Highlight of the game

Hedman's goal was a slap shot from center point that came off a rebound after his first shot was blocked. He beat Niemi to the glove side.

Video: PIT@TBL: Hedman beats the first-period buzzer

 

They said it

"We tried hard to play a more disciplined game in a game that wasn't. We don't want to be a team that trades chance for chance because you can't control your destiny if you play that way. We have to be more of a team that controls territory, that controls the momentum, that has more of a defensive conscience in mind so that we have a better opportunity to control the outcome." -- Penguins coach Mike Sullivan

 

"These are good teams, so anytime you can beat a good team it's going to give you confidence, especially to respond the way we have after that tough effort [against the Florida Panthers, a 5-4 loss Saturday]. We've responded well and now we'll continue to work to get better." -- Lightning captain Steven Stamkos

 

Need to know

The last Lightning player to have four assists was Johnson (Oct. 28, 2014 against the Arizona Coyotes). … Stamkos scored his 112th power-play goal to tie Vincent Lecavalier for the most in Lightning history. … Penguins center Sidney Crosby had nine shot attempts, six on goal, but did not have a point for the second time in his past 17 games against the Lightning. … Lightning forward Chris Kunitz, playing in his first game against the Penguins since leaving them as a free agent this offseason, was plus-1 with an assist in 10:52 of ice time.

 

What's next

Penguins: Host the Florida Panthers on Saturday (7 p.m., ATTSN-PT, FS-F, NHL.TV)

Lightning: Host the St. Louis Blues on Saturday (7 p.m., SUN, FS-MW, NHL.TV)

 

Video: Koekkoek, Vasilevskiy power Lightning to 5-4 victory

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