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Aftermath: Penguins 2, Lightning 1

by Jason Seidling / Pittsburgh Penguins


Photos: Penguins 2, Lightning 1
Aftermath: Pens vs. Lightning
Crosby Avoids Injury Following Hit by Downie
Malkin Suffers Injury in Penguins' Victory
Blog: Pens vs. Bolts Game Blog
The Penguins ran into a hot goaltender for the third consecutive game, but unlike the previous two Pittsburgh was able to get just enough pucks behind Antero Niittymaki in the third period to skate away with a much-need two points.

Tampa Bay dictated the pace of the game for much of the first two periods despite the Penguins owning a 24-17 shots advantage after 40 minutes. The Lightning were using a neutral-zone trap to negate the Penguins speed advantage.  

Pittsburgh looked like a totally different team in the third period, jumping all over the Lightning right from the opening shift. They scored twice within the first 5:17 to flip a 1-0 deficit into a 2-1 lead. It was also the Penguins who displayed some stifling defense, limiting the Lightning to just five shots in the third period. Tampa Bay’s first shot came on a drive by Vincent Lecavalier with 2:20 remaining in regulation. Marc-Andre Fleury made huge saves on Teddy Purcell and Martin St. Louis down the stretch to preserve the victory.
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) – Pascal Dupuis and Sergei Gonchar scored in a 2:57 span in the third period, and Marc-Andre Fleury made 21 saves to help the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-1 on Sunday.

Gonchar scored the winning goal on a power at 5:17, blasting a slap shot past Antero Niittymaki from just inside the blue line.

Sidney Crosby and Alexei Ponikarovsky celebrate Sergei Gonchar's game-winning goal.
(photo by Getty)
What Worked Well: Crashing the Net
Pittsburgh scored twice within a 2:57 minute span at the beginning of the third period mainly because they sent traffic to the net. On the first goal, all three forwards, Matt Cooke, Jordan Staal and Pascal Dupuis had looks from just outside the crease with Dupuis getting the tally. On Sergei Gonchar’s game-winner, Alexei Ponikarovsky parked himself right in front of Antero Niittymaki, taking away his sightline.

What Could Have Gone Better: Breaking the Trap
Tampa Bay did a great job clogging up the neutral zone against the Penguins the first two periods, allowing Pittsburgh very few quality looks against Antero Niittymaki. The Lightning defense had great gap control and constantly forced the Penguins to dump the puck to gain entry into the offensive zone.
Neither Brooks Orpik nor Kris Letang registered a point on the score sheet on Sunday, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t huge factors in the Penguins’ 2-1 victory. The Penguins’ shutdown duo spent the majority of the afternoon matched up against the Lightning’s top offensive unit of Steven Stamkos, Martin St. Louis and Steve Downie. They held the trio to a combined zero points, six shots and minus-3 rating. Orpik also helped get the ball rolling for the Penguins in the third period as it was his shot from the left point which eventually resulted in Pascal Dupuis’ game-tying goal.
Neither team could get much offense going until the Lightning broke a scoreless tie at 11:51 into the second period. Victor Hedman dumped the puck behind the Pittsburgh net, and Todd Fedoruk won the battle for the puck there. He sent a quick pass to Vincent Lecavalier in the slot and the Lightning captain buried a shot behind Marc-Andre Fleury. Tampa Bay 1, Pittsburgh 0.

Pittsburgh evened the contest 2:20 into the third period. Jordan Staal’s shot from the slot sailed over the net but came hard off the end boards right onto the blade of Pascal Dupuis at the near post. Dupuis flipped a shot over a fallen Antero Niittymaki for his 17th goal of the season. Pittsburgh 1, Tampa Bay 1.

With Pittsburgh on a power play 2:57 later Alexei Ponikarovsky won a battle in the near corner against two Tampa Bay defenders and sent a pass to Sidney Crosby at the opposite post. Crosby fed the puck back to Sergei Gonchar at the right point. Gonchar unleashed a laser through traffic for his 10th goal of the season. Pittsburgh 2, Tampa Bay 1.
Penguins forward Evgeni Malkin took a Kris Letang slap shot off the inside of his right foot near the tail end of the second period. He did not return for the third period.

Sidney Crosby survived a scary first-period collision with Tampa Bay forward Steve Downie just minutes into the contest. Crosby had just made a pass when Downie approached the Penguins captain from the side and brought him down with a highly-questionable slew foot. Crosby’s knee buckled under his body, but he did not miss a shift.

Head coach Dan Bylsma made a few lineup adjustments on Sunday. Forward Tyler Kennedy and defenseman Jay McKee both returned to action against the Lightning. Kennedy played the right wing with Mike Rupp and Craig Adams while McKee was paired defensively with Jordan Leopold. Maxime Talbot and Alex Goligoski were scratched to make room.
> Scoring Summary:
TB, V. Lecavalier (20), 8:09 2nd period: Lightning 1, Penguins 0
PIT, P. Dupuis (17), 2:20 3rd period: Penguins 1, Lightning 1
PIT, S. Gonchar PP (10), 5:17 3rd period: Penguins 2, Lightning 1

> Pittsburgh’s victory allowed them to improve to 41-23-5 on the season, good for 87 points, four more than second-place New Jersey in the race for the Atlantic Division crown. The Penguins are 6-1-4 over their past 11 games. Pittsburgh is also 5-1-1 since returning from the Olympic break.

> The Penguins’ victory allowed the team to improve to 1-1-1 on this season-long five-game road trip. Following a brief stop back in Pittsburgh on Monday and Tuesday, the trip will conclude with contests in New Jersey on Wednesday and Boston on Thursday.

> The Penguins are now 59-26-9 all-time in the regular season under head coach Dan Bylsma. Pittsburgh also improved to 7-18-2 on the season when they trail after two periods. Only Vancouver has more come-from-behind victories with 10.

> Sidney Crosby picked up an assist on Sergei Gonchar’s game-winning goal, extending his scoring streak to nine games. Crosby has 13 points (6G-7A) during the streak. He also has picked up points in 17 of his past 19 games for a total of 30 points (15G-15A) during the stretch.

> Sergei Gonchar became the 10th Penguin to reach double figures in goals when he tallied the game-winner at 5:17 of the third period. Gonchar has picked up 10 points (2G-8A) over his past 11 games.

> Pascal Dupuis scored for the fourth time in the past six games. He now has 17 goals on the season, three shy of tying his career high of 20. Dupuis also extended his scored streak to a season-high five games. He has picked up six points (3G-3A) during the streak.

> Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 21 of 22 shots to pick up his 32nd goal of the season. Fleury is now 3-1 in the month of March. Since the 2006-07 season, Fleury is 30-4-5 in the months of March/April.
1. S. Gonchar
2. S. Crosby
3. A. Niittymaki
It was pretty scary. With time I was able to
go a little bit. By the end of
the first (I knew it was OK). It was
more of a stinger. It’s scary nonetheless.

- Sidney Crosby


Author: Jason Seidling

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