You have to give credit where it is due and the Tampa Bay Lightning came in here tonight looking to improve upon a 2-7 slide and they did so against one of the hotter teams in the National Hockey League. The Lightning leave 2-0 victors over the Penguins, allowing them to earn a split, 2-2 of the season series. Pittsburgh will be back in action on Saturday when they host the Atlanta Thrashers at 1 p.m. The team will present their annual awards prior to the contest.
The Penguins net is empty as they look to score twice here in this final minute.
2:25: A great power move to the net by Staal but Smith is on top of his game tonight as he stays tight against the near post and makes the save.
You have to give the Lightning high marks for their team defense tonight. They are keeping the Penguins away from their net and clogging up the neutral zone here in the third perid.
The Penguins are really sending their defensemen into the zone in an effort to generate more chances.
A nice catch by the fan in B-4 on a puck shot out of play. He'd look good playing first base for the Pirates!
There's what the Penguins needed! A left-pad save on Paul Szczechura's point-blank one-timer. Fleury wants this game it's up to the rest of the team to respond.
Here are the Don Farr Moving and Storage Moves of the Game:
Cooke is back and the Penguins can go to work on putting a dent into this lead.
Maybe this is the shift that turns it around for the Penguins? Talbot and Adams get two good looks shorthanded as the Penguins control the puck following a faceoff win. Again, we just need a break and I think this team will break out.
Cooke is penalized for high-sticking. This is an absolute MUST KILL for Pittsburgh.
The Penguins are getting pressure on the Lightning but are still having trouble getting the puck on net. Tampa Bay is doing an excellent job getting sticks and bodies into shooting lanes.
Another good effort by the Tampa Bay penalty killing unit to kill off the Stamkos minor.
Do the Penguins have another big comeback in them?THIRD PERIOD
SECOND PERIOD NOTES:
- Pittsburgh has a 17-12 advantage on the faceoff dot.
- The Penguins are outhitting the Lightning 17-8.
- The Penguins begin the period with a 44-second power play.
More pushing and shoving ensues as the horn blows on the second period. It's Tampa
Bay with a 2-0 lead on the Penguins. Pittsburgh continues to outshoot the Lightning, 18-12.
The hard work of Kunitz forces Stamkos to take a tripping penalty. Come on guys we need one here!
The crowd lets the referees hear it after Bochenski slashes the stick right out of the hands of Cooke but no penalty is called on the play. The Penguins need some sort of break to go their way here.
Yes, the Penguins are not playing their best game of the season tonight, but you just get the feeling that if they can somehow get that first goal the flood gates might open a bit for them.
The Penguins clearly needed a jolt of energy and who better to provide it than inspirational veteran leader Bill Guerin. The 39-year-old winger drops the gloves and gets the better of NHL penalty minutes leader Zenon Konopka. Let's see if this sparks the team and the crowd.
I'm telling you what ... as Smith closes the door on another scoring chance from right in front Craig Adams
is coming closer and closer to notching his first goal of the season. That's the second time tonight has had a good look. Mark it down - Adams is going to score a HUGE goal for this team sometime in the next two weeks.
A good penalty kill there by the Lightning as the Penguins fall to 0-for-3 on the man-advantage.
The Penguins need to make a move in this game here on the holding call just assessed to Lightning goaltender Mike Smith.
Watch the best highlights from the month of March in tonight's Nemacolin Woodlands Big Five:
If Letang finds the net with one of these quality chances he is getting the Penguins are going to be right back in this hockey game.
Pittsburgh kills the Cooke penalty. They need to use the energy from the crowd and start to take it to the Lightning a bit. The second period has been Tampa Bay's worst period all season.
Smith skates out to take the puck but Staal steals it away. A great recovery though by the Tampa Bay defense to prevent him from taking the puck to the net.
18:01: Matt Cooke
draws a crowd following a Smith save. With eight guys pushing and shoving Cooke receives the only penalty for roughing. Interesting.
St. Louis' pass deflected off a skate and came right to Steve Downie at the top of the right circle. Downie beats Fleury to the stick side for his 22nd goal. Stamkos gets the second assist. Lightning 2, Penguins 0.
The Penguins begin the period trailing 1-0.SECOND PERIOD
FIRST PERIOD NOTES:
- Maxime Talbot led the Penguins with two hits.
- Kris Letang
saw 10:31 minutes of ice time.
- The Penguins outhit the Lightning, 6-3.
After one period it's the Lightning holding a 1-0 lead over the Penguins. Pittsburgh has the better of the shots, 9-6.
The fans were yelling for the Penguins to shoot so Leopold did from the left point. His drive went off the post to the left of Smith as the Penguins nearly missed knotting the score.
Let's see if the Penguins can answer the Stamkos tally as they go on a power play of their own with the Lightning penalized for having too many men on the ice.
I guess we see why Steven Stamkos now has 46 goals, second only to the Penguins Sidney Crosby
. He just sent a one-timer from the top of the left circle into the cage behind Fleury. He was set up nicely by St. Louis. Lightning 1, Penguins 0.
Tampa Bay heads on their second power play as Jordan Leopold is penalized for interference.
WHEEEEEEEEEW! Somehow Martin St. Louis could not catch a pass and slip it into the open cage as he stood WIDE OPEN in front of the crease.
We have a pair of coincidental minors as Chris Kunitz
is sent to the box for the Penguins and Nate Thompson for Tampa Bay as both receive unsportsmanlike conduct penalties. We have four-on-four action.
As the penalty comes to a close Dupuis flies out of the Penguins zone and over the Tampa Bay blue line before his slap shot from the top of the left circle is stopped by the pads of Smith.6:15:
Pittsburgh kills off the Ponikarovsky minor without much trouble.
Tampa Bay goes on their first man-advantage of the night as Alexei Ponikarovsky is sent to the penalty box for interference.
Fleury makes not one but two saves on Alex Tanguay from just outside his doorstep. Also, Ruslan Fedotenko has just stepped back onto the ice, much to the delight of the crowd.
A huge congratulations to the Penguins Jay McKee, who is playing in his 800th carerr NHL game tonight. A great accomplishment for an awesome human being. One of the true class acts in the game.
A little pushing and shoving in front of the Penguins net following a Fleury save on Kurtis Foster's blast. Brooks Orpik
and Brandon Bochenski came together. Two two began their exchange following an earlier hit by Orpik in the neutral zone.
Great chance for the Penguins as Smith makes a right-pad stop to rob Maxime Talbot's shot from six feet away off a Pascal Dupuis
feed from the near corner.
Not the power play the Penguins envisioned as the Lightning are able to kill it off.
The Penguins come close to breaking the ice there as Goligoski's shot from 15 feet skids through the blue paint. Tampa Bay clears before Jordan Staal
could pounce on the rebound.
So far the Penguins have had a couple of good looks on this major penalty but nothing yet in terms of making Lashoff pay.
The turkey is on the table early for the Penguins as Matt Lashoff, just called up earlier today with all the injuries along the Tampa Bay blueline, gets a five-minute major for boarding and a game misconduct for a hit from behind on Ruslan Fedotenko. Head athletic trainer takes Fedotenko to the Penguins locker room. We will provide an update when we get one.
19:36: Kris Letang
almost began earning that new contract extension early as he took a drop pass in the slot and just sent a shot wide of Smith as the Penguins rushed into the zone.
The Penguins look to increase their winning streak to three. Marc-Andre Fleury
gets the call for the Penguins. Mike Smith is in goal for Tampa Bay.
STAT OF THE NIGHT:
After challenging for a playoff position for much of the season, a 4-14-1 month of March has killed the Lightning's playoff hopes.
Tampa Bay has been hit hard by the injury bug down the stretch, contributing to the team's 2-7 slide. Their host of walking wounded for tonight's contest includes: defensemen Matt Walker, David Hale, Matt Smaby and Victor Hedman, along with forwards Malone and Ted Purcell.
Unfortunately Upper St. Clair native Ryan Malone will not be playing tonight in what would be his final appearance at the rink he basically grew up in. We were able to catch up with Malone and his head coach, Rick Tocchet earlier this morning for their reflections on Mellon Arena
The Penguins continue the final six-game homestand at Mellon Arena by hosting the struggling Tampa Bay Lightning. Pittsburgh is looking to improve their record to 3-0 on the homestand. The Penguins will once again be without the services of Evgeni Malkin
and Sergei Gonchar against the Lightning, although both players did take part in the morning skate earlier today and hope to return to the lineup on Saturday against the Atlanta Thrashers. Read here
for more details.
Author: Jason Seidling