Michelle Crechiolo gives her three impressions from the press box of the Penguins' 4-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The bottom-six didn’t just provide secondary scoring in this game – they provided all the scoring. Scott Wilson netted his second in as many games, while Tom Kuhnhackl got the first of his career. And what an absolute beauty it was. The forward made a tremendous play to chip the puck to himself past Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman and go in on a 2-on-1 with Kevin Porter, where he deked to his backhand and roofed it into the top corner. Scott Wilson followed that up with his second goal in as many games after getting his first on Thursday against Detroit. It’s fantastic to see the chances start falling for that group, as they’d been doing everything right but were just snakebitten.
2. TOO LITTLE, TOO LATE
As a team, I don’t think the Pens did enough to create scoring chances as a group in this game, especially early on. They had barely any sustained zone time in the first period, and even though they sent 17 shots at Ben Bishop in that 20 minutes, most of them were from far out and easy for the Lightning netminder to see and turn aside. The Pens didn’t start generating real sustained momentum until late in the second, where they got some power play time. But by then it felt like too little, too late. I didn’t think the Pens worked hard enough to get to the blue paint.
When you think of these teams, you think offense and speed – not necessarily grittiness. But there was a decent amount of hits, scraps and scrums, many of them coming after the whistle. Unfortunately for the Pens, that meant their big guys spent a lot of time in the box – which isn’t ideal when trying to come back from an early 2-0 deficit. Sidney Crosby and Trevor Daley got a couple calls each, while Kris Letang took two extremely inadvisable penalties late in the game with the Pens trying to chip away at what had turned into a 4-2 deficit. Instead, they were shorthanded for four minutes. It’s that time of year where things are going to start getting chippy, especially with teams grinding it out for playoff position like these two are. The Pens have to make sure they stay smart moving forward.