With the two highest-scoring teams in the Eastern Conference and some of the top individual talent in the National Hockey League sharing the same ice surface, everyone knew there was the threat of an offensive explosion at the St. Pete Times Forum.
The Penguins and Lightning sure didn’t disappoint.
The two teams combined to strike three times in the first 4:29 of the first period – including two shorthanded goals on the same penalty by the Penguins (Craig Adams and Matt Cooke) – and eight goals total. Unfortunately for Pittsburgh, it was the Lightning storming back from an early 3-1 deficit and a 3-3 tie after 40 minutes to record the 5-3 win on a pair of third-period tallies by Martin St. Louis.
Pittsburgh dominated the action throughout the first half of this contest, jumping out to a 3-1 lead by the 12:15 mark of the opening period. Tampa Bay chipped away, scoring late in the first period (Teddy Purcell) and midway through the middle frame (Vincent Lecavalier) to draw even after two periods.
The Lightning rode those tallies – and the goaltending efforts of Dan Ellis, who stopped all 24 shots he saw in relief of starter Mike Smith – to gain momentum and control the play in the third period long enough for St. Louis to score a breathtaking end-to-end goal and add an empty-net tally late to give the Lightning the top record in the Eastern Conference.
All-in-all, however, a pretty good road swing for the Penguins against three difficult opponents. Pittsburgh went 1-1-1 against Nashville, St. Louis and Tampa Bay, three teams with a combined 15-3-6 record through Wednesday.
Craig Adams doesn’t occupy a roster spot with the Penguins because of his goal-scoring touch. Instead, the veteran grinder is counted on to kill penalties, add energy and fulfill a defensive role.
However, on Wednesday night, Adams put on his best Sidney Crosby impersonation by scoring a goal and adding two helpers for his fourth career three-point night and his first since Dec. 13, 2006 when he played for the Carolina Hurricanes. Adams’ shorthanded goal in the first period was his first regular-season tally with the Penguins and his first goal in the regular season since Dec. 16, 2008, a span of 119 games.
Adams had scored five postseason goals in 37 contests with the black and gold, but had yet to find the back of the net in 98 regular-season games.
All three of Adams points came in the first period, including a goal and an assist within 1:01 minutes of each other on the same penalty.
Things were looking great for the Penguins when Craig Adams, Matt Cooke and Pascal Dupuis scored on three of Pittsburgh’s first seven shots against Mike Smith to stake the Penguins to a 3-1 lead. However, Dupuis’ goal at 12:15 of the first period would be the last puck the Penguins put into the Tampa Bay net as Dan Ellis came on to stop all 24 shots he faced to allow the Lightning to make the comeback.
(AP) - Martin St. Louis scored the tiebreaking goal early in the third and added a late empty-netter to help the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-3 on Wednesday night.
• Craig Adams (3:28) and Matt Cooke (4:29) scored shorthanded goals within 1:01 minutes of each other on the same penalty in the first period, marking the first time the Penguins tallied twice shorthanded on the same penalty since Kris Letang and Maxime Talbot did it on April 11, 2009 at Montreal. The goals by Adams and Cooke gave the Penguins two shorthanded goals in the same game for the 32nd time in team history, and the first since Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal both tallied on Dec. 15 of last season against Philadelphia.
• Not only does Cooke now lead the Penguins with two shorthanded goals, he is locked in a four-way tie for the league lead with Philadelphia’s Claude Giroux, Columbus forward and Plum native R.J. Umberger and Edmonton rookie sensation Jordan Eberle. Cooke is halfway to tying his career high of four shorthand goals established in 2002-03.
• For the second-straight contest the Penguins took another step towards regaining full health. Forward Arron Asham (upper body) made his Pittsburgh debut after missing the first nine games of the season after suffering an injury during a preseason contest in Chicago on Oct. 1. Asham skated 11:01 minutes, recorded one shot and led the team with four hits. In addition to his regular duties on the fourth line, Asham spent four shifts on the Penguins’ top line alongside Sidney Crosby.
• Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury saw the eighth penalty shot of his career during the second period when Sean Bergenheim was awarded a free shot after being hooked on a shorthanded breakaway. Fleury denied Bergenheim with a glove save. Fleury has now stopped six of eight (75 percent) career penalty shots he has faced.