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Aftermath: Lightning 3, Penguins 1

by Jason Seidling / Pittsburgh Penguins
The Penguins tied their season-worst four-game losing streak by succumbing to the Tampa Bay Lightning, 3-1. They have now given up the first goal and been outshot in three of their past four games. Although the Penguins once again gave a strong effort and came back from their early deficit, those are numbers they want to reverse to get back on the winning track.

While the Penguins are not happy with dropping four straight games they can take solace in the fact that the only previous time they dropped four in a row during a stretch in early November they came back to win five of their next six games and 14 of 19. They take on a Florida Panthers team they have beaten in all three contests thus far in 2009-10 on Sunday.
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) – Zenon Konopka celebrated his 29th birthday with a rare goal and the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-1 on Saturday.

Brooks Orpik checks Steve Downie behind the Penguins net
(photo by Getty)
What Worked Well: Crashing the Net
The Penguins were able to even the score at 1-1 by having two players crash the net on a meat-and-potatoes goal late in the first period. Jordan Staal came across the blue line and sent a shot off the pads of goaltender Mike Smith. Tampa Bay defender Matt Smaby tied up Chris Kunitz driving the net, but nobody picked up Bill Guerin trailing right behind and he had an easy rebound score.

What Could Have Gone Better: Better Luck
Saying the Penguins could have had better luck is not giving them an excuse for dropping the game against the Lightning but you still cannot discount the effect bounces had on this game. Tampa Bay’s second and third goals came when shots bounced off Penguins in front of the cage and landed right on the blades of Lightning players in prime scoring positions. Additionally, Evgeni Malkin beat Mike Smith with a shot in the third period but the puck clanked off the right goal post.
Marc-Andre Fleury returned to the net after resting against the New Jersey Devils on Wednesday and he was spectacular between the pipes. He stopped 34 of 37 shots against the Tampa Bay Lightning as he gave the Penguins numerous opportunities to come back in the game.

Fleury was especially strong in the second period when the Lightning threw 19 shots his way. He was able to keep 18 of those pucks out of the net, including a stop where he came diving across his crease to keep a Stephane Veilleux shot out of the net with a right-arm save. In the third period Fleury went down into a snow angel to make a right-pad save on Vincent Lecavalier’s penalty shot.
Tampa Bay struck first barely a minute into the game. Mattias Ohlund threw the puck towards the front of the net where Martin St. Louis stood. St. Louis corralled the biscuit and sent a backhander over Marc-Andre Fleury. Tampa Bay 1, Pittsburgh 0.

Jay McKee threw a perfect outlet pass ahead to Jordan Staal in the neutral zone to begin the play. Staal skated over the blue line and fired a pass off the pad of netminder Mike Smith. Bill Guerin went hard to the net and deposited the rebound into an empty cage to even the score late in the opening frame. Pittsburgh 1, Tampa Bay 1.

Steven Stamkos saw his initial shot bounce off the chest of Marc-Andre Fleury but the puck went off a couple sticks and pads and laid the crease. Zenon Konopka was there to tuck the puck under Fleury. Tampa Bay 2, Pittsburgh 1.

Just minutes after Fleury denied Vincent Lecavalier on a penalty shot the Lightning were able to stretch their lead to two goals. An Ohlund shot from the left point went off the body of one of the Penguins in the slot and landed on Steve Downie’s stick. Downie threw a wrist shot just over the shoulder of Fleury. Tampa Bay 3, Pittsburgh 1.
Defenseman Sergei Gonchar sat out against the Lightning after injuring his right foot when he blocked a shot off the stick of the New Jersey Devils Brian Rolston on Wednesday. Gonchar tried practicing with the Penguins on Friday afternoon but had to leave early after he experienced difficulty skating. The loss of Gonchar deprived the Penguins of their leading scorer from the blue line as Gonchar has posted 23 points (5G-18A) in 29 contests. He previously missed 12 games earlier in the season with a broken left wrist.

Pass off the pads, also known in Penguins’ land as POP, is a favorite phrase of head coach Dan Bylsma. The Penguins work on POP daily, whether it’s a practice day or a morning skate. POP involves the player with the puck throwing a shot off the pads of the goaltender with the sole purpose of it being a pass to a teammate crashing the net. This was how the Penguins scored their opening goal, as Jordan Staal shot the rubber off the leg of Mike Smith and Bill Guerin converted the rebound.

Sergei Gonchar’s absence forced head coach Dan Bylsma to once again shuffle his defensive pairs. The combination of Brooks Orpik with Kris Letang was the only pair not to be changed. Jay McKee, who sat out Wednesday against the Devils, returned to the lineup and was partnered with Martin Skoula. Alex Goligoski and Mark Eaton comprised the final duo. Goligoski also took Gonchar’s place at the right point with the top power-play unit.
> Scoring Summary:
TB, M. St. Louis (9), 1:03 1st period: Lightning 1, Penguins 0
PIT, B. Guerin (13), 17:15 1st period: Penguins 1, Lightning 1
TB, Z. Konopka (2), 14:26 2nd period: Lightning 2, Penguins 1
TB, S. Downie (8), 7:11 3rd period: Lightning 3, Penguins 1

> Despite the loss the Penguins still sit in second place in the Atlantic Division with a 26-15-1 record, four points behind the New Jersey Devils.

> Since head coach Dan Bylsma took over on Feb. 15, 2009 the Penguins are 44-18-5 and 21-10-3 away from Mellon Arena.

> The loss dropped the Penguins’ record to 6-7 on the season when they are without defenseman Sergei Gonchar.

> Bill Guerin’s first-period goal gives him 13 on the season, second-most (tied) on the team. Guerin has scored six goals in his past nine games.

> Jordan Staal’s assist on Staal’s goal gives him four points (1G-3A) over his last five games.

> Marc-Andre Fleury denied Vincent Lecavalier on a penalty shot at the 4:44 mark of the third period. It marked the second-consecutive game Fleury had to face a penalty shot. His save on Lecavalier improved his numbers to four saves in the six career penalty shots he has faced.
1. M. St. Louis
2. M. Smith
3. M. Ohlund
"The urgency level now should be there if it
has not been. And maybe it
hasn't been, looking at our
record over the last
few games."

- Dan Bylsma


Author: Jason Seidling

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