The Penguins penalty killers didn’t score two shorthanded goals against Tampa Bay like they did in the previous contest against the Lightning. However, they were even more pivotal to Friday’s outcome with Pittsburgh netting a 5-1 victory over the Bolts.
The Penguins were clinging to a 2-0 lead early in the third period when a few successive penalties put them at a disadvantage. Things looked ugly when sniper Steven Stamkos buried his NHL-leading 15th goal on a one-timer during a two-man advantage to cut the lead to 2-1.
Then, minutes later, another penalty forced the Penguins to play down two men for 1:05 minutes. To make matters worse, two of Pittsburgh’s best penalty killing forwards – Pascal Dupuis
and Matt Cooke
– were both in the box.
Pittsburgh successfully killed off both penalties to maintain their 2-1 lead. The crowd gave a cacophonous cheer of approval as the final seconds on the penalty ticked away.
“This is not the first time this year that our penalty killers have won us a game with their mindset and attitude when they go over the boards,” head coach Dan Bylsma said. “We know we’re playing a dangerous group, Stamkos and (Martin) St. Louis out there. … We have a lot of confidence in our bench. They did a great job.”
“We did a great job of getting into lanes and denying their shots,” Cooke said. “When they did get a good shot, Fleury made the saves and we got the puck down the ice. Any time you kill a five-on-three it’s a momentum builder.”
There was one scary moment when a Stamkos shot hit off goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury
and then defenseman Brooks Orpik
. The puck started sliding toward the goal line, but Orpik got his stick on the rubber to push it to the side of the cage – barely.
“Sometimes it’s pretty and sometimes it’s not pretty,” said Craig Adams
, who was on the ice for the two-man kill. “That one was a lot of scrambling and diving for pucks. Brooksie made a great play with his stick to keep it out of the net. We got it done.”MAD MAX
Minutes after the Penguins pivotal penalty kill, the team cemented the victory on a goal by energetic forward Maxime Talbot.
Mike Rupp, without a stick, tied up a Lightning defenseman just inside the Penguins zone at the blue line. Rupp’s check freed the puck. Talbot picked up the biscuit in full stride with Adams, setting up a two-on-one rush for Pittsburgh.
Talbot streaked down the far side and then snapped a wrist shot far side over the shoulder of netminder Mike Smith, off the crossbar and into the netting.
“It was a great play by Mike Rupp on the boards without a stick. It was a two-on-one with me and Adams,” Talbot said. “You have to trust yourself. I took the shot and it felt pretty good.
“When you feel it your looser. You don’t think too much. You just make the play.”
“It was perfect timing and a great shot,” Adams said. “You couldn’t have had a better shot. Max had a really strong game. Good for Max. He deserved it.”
The play looked very similar to Talbot’s Game 7 Stanley Cup-winning goal at Detroit over the shoulder of Chris Osgood – although after scoring Talbot didn’t pump his fists while sliding on his knees. It was still pretty close.
“A lot of guys on the bench, when I came back told me they saw that goal before,” Talbot said. “It’s a good feeling.”CAREER MILESTONE
Penguins’ hard-nosed defenseman Deryk Engelland
is known much more for his fists than his hands. But Engelland, who is playing in his first year as an NHL blueliner, hit a career milestone by scoring his first NHL goal against the Lightning.
Engelland took a pass at the near point. He then ripped a hard slap shot that sailed behind Smith for the goal – thanks to some traffic in front of the goal provided by Dupuis.
“The goal was a good forecheck,” Engelland said. “Sidney (Crosby) passed it back, and I just tried to get it on the net. Dupuis cut in front. It was a great screen and it found its way in.”
“I was really happy for the him,” Talbot said. “He’s a leader out there as a first-year guy. He’s been fighting every game. It’s good to see him get his first goal in the NHL. That’s pretty special.”
Dupuis quickly retrieved the souvenir puck and handed it over to Engelland.
“Duper had it right away. I didn’t even know he grabbed but he had it in his hand right away,” Engelland said. “It will be at home somewhere. Probably on the wall, I guess. I’ll put the stick and the puck somewhere and keep it forever.”
But regardless of where the puck ends up, the memory of that moment will remain with Engelland forever.
“It’s definitely (a dream). I don’t score too many goals in any league, so to get one here was awesome,” Engelland said. “To have a guy like Sid assist on it makes it even better. I’ll just take it all in and get ready to go tomorrow.”