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game recap

Penguins win fifth straight

Pittsburgh defeats Lightning in first game since Dec. 31

by Wes Crosby / NHL.com Correspondent

PITTSBURGH -- Six different players scored and Marc-Andre Fleury made 28 saves to help the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 6-2 win against the Tampa Bay Lightning at PPG Paints Arena on Sunday.

Fleury is 13-5-4 after winning five straight and seven of his past eight decisions (7-0-1).

In their first game since Dec. 31, the Penguins (26-8-5) extended their winning streak to five games. Pittsburgh is 18-2-2 at home, where they have not lost in regulation since a 5-2 loss to the New York Rangers on Nov. 21. 

"I think our team enjoys playing in front of our fans," Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. "I know they give us a boost, but it's not like we draw up a game plan for home and a game plan for away. We're trying to play the same game."

 

WATCH: All Lightning vs. Penguins highlights

 

With the Penguins trailing 1-0 in the second period, Conor Sheary tied it at 6:44 before Eric Fehr scored to give the Penguins a 2-1 lead at 11:14.

Chris Kunitz made it 3-1 at 2:33 of the third period and Scott Wilson extended the lead to 4-1 at 3:28.

Tampa Bay forward Vladislav Namestnikov made it 4-2 with a power-play goal 5:40, but Phil Kessel restored Pittsburgh's three-goal lead at 7:50.

Kris Letang scored the Penguins' fourth goal of the third period to make it 6-2 with 2:40 remaining. The goal was Letang's third of the season and first since Nov. 18.

Video: TBL@PIT: Letang rockets PPG past Vasilevskiy

Tampa Bay (19-19-4) has lost four in a row to start January after winning two of its final three December games. The Lightning have allowed 22 goals during the losing streak.

"Obviously, we're playing a really good team that had a long break. They have the bodies healthy," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "And we're a tired group. When you're tired, you're bound to make a couple of mistakes.

"We did what we wanted to do. We got a lead and unfortunately, we broke down on the first [Penguins goal] and then the self-inflicted wounds started."

Despite allowing six goals for the third time in four games, forward Jonathan Drouin, who gave the Lightning a 1-0 lead with his 12th goal of the season 2:19 into the second period, is optimistic Tampa Bay will rebound from its recent struggles.

"We've done it before and we have the team to do it," Drouin said. "So it's definitely time to go, but we're confident in our group and the guys we have here. It's up to us to get some wins at home."

Tampa Bay goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy made 34 saves in his third start in four days. He has allowed 20 goals in his past four games. 

Video: TBL@PIT: Vasilevskiy stones Hornqvist with the skate

 

Goal of the game

Cullen skated into the offensive zone before passing between Hedman and Nikita Kucherov. Fehr received the pass and one-timed a shot for a go-ahead goal midway through the second period.

Video: TBL@PIT: Fehr slams home Cullen's feed on the rush

 

Save of the game

Cullen raced to reach a puck below Tampa Bay's goal line before passing back beyond Hedman to Fehr in front of Vasilevskiy. Fehr got off a wrist shot, but was denied when Vasilevskiy made a sliding glove save 8:18 into the second period.

Video: TBL@PIT: Vasilevskiy goes post-to-post to rob Fehr

 

Highlight of the game

Wilson scored Pittsburgh's fourth goal after a faceoff slid down the wall past Lightning defenseman Anton Stralman. Wilson charged past Stralman and went forehand-to-backhand to shoot past Vasilevskiy.

Video: TBL@PIT: Wilson races into zone, nets backhanded goal

 

Unsung performance of the game

Penguins forward Patric Hornqvist didn't factor into the scoresheet, but supplied a physical presence with six hits.

 

They said it

"You want to be good at home, obviously. … I think when we're here, we try to use that advantage as best we can and we've played really good hockey here. I think it has to do with the energy we get." -- Penguins captain Sidney Crosby

 

"This league has a way of challenging every team in a particular moment in the season, and I think those guys are going through it. … They're facing a little bit of adversity, but certainly they're a very, very good team." -- Penguins coach Mike Sullivan on Tampa Bay

 

"It's always tough being in stretches like this. This whole season has been very much up and down, but what are you going to do? We can't give up. There's half a season left to play. We're still not out. We still have it in our hands. We just have to bring it together." -- Lightning defenseman Anton Stralman

 

Need to know

Lightning forward J.T. Brown did not play after being hit in the head by Philadelphia Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds on Saturday. … Tampa Bay recalled forwards Michael Bournival and Erik Condra from Syracuse on Sunday. … Penguins defenseman Chad Ruhwedel was a healthy scratch. Steve Oleksy replaced him to play alongside defenseman Trevor Daley. … Kunitz's goal was his 164th with Pittsburgh, which tied Ron Francis for 10th in Penguins history.

 

What's next

Lightning: Host the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday (7:30 p.m. ET; SUN, MSG-B, NHL.TV)

Penguins: At the Washington Capitals on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TVAS, NHL.TV)

 

Video: Six Penguins tally goals in 6-2 win over Lightning

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