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Pens-Lightning In-Game Blog

by Michelle Crechiolo / Pittsburgh Penguins


0:00: Thanks to Malkin's natural hat trick, the Pens storm their way to a 6-3 win over Tampa! Incredible display from the one they call Geno!

0:56: Malkin ices the win for Pittsburgh when he flips a puck from the red line into the empty Bolts net! NATTY HATTY FOR GENO! Guy Boucher decides it's time to use his timeout after the score. PENS 6, LIGHTNING 3

5:40: Bolts successfully kill off that penalty. Special teams have really proven to be a huge factor tonight.

7:44: Neal and Kubina jostle with each other and they're both handed 10-minute misconducts, meaning they'll sit out the rest of regulation.

7:49: A frustrated Lecavalier tracks Malkin all over the ice before he finally corners him and throws a punch, which gets both players' teammates rushing to the defense. When the dust settles, the Bolts captain gets four minutes for roughing and a 10-minute misconduct while Geno gets a pair for roughing. Pens to the PP.

10:33: A bad change by the Bolts D leads to a wide-open Geno getting the puck alone in Tampa's zone! He drags from forehand to backhand and tucks the puck past Garon while horizontal to the ice!!! Goal No. 2 for Malkin! PENS 5, LIGHTNING 3

12:22: And Malkin answers when he carries the puck out of the corner and goes top shelf! PENS 4, LIGHTNING 3

13:10: Yikes. After Fleury makes the initial stop on a Gervais shot from the point, Purcell digs the puck out and stuffs it into the cage. PENS 3, LIGHTNING 3

15:07: Malone tips a Lecavalier pass on the back door and just like that, the Bolts are back in it. Bylsma calls his timeout to settle his team. PENS 3, LIGHTNING 2

15:59: Engelland high sticks St. Louis in the corner and that means Tampa is getting their first PP opportunity of the afternoon. Dupuis, Adams, Orpik and Michalek go to work.

18:00: Tampa breaks the shutout bid when Stamkos posts up behind the Pens net and slides a pass to D-man Gilroy, who quickly wrists a shot far side past Fleury. The puck had barely touched his blade before he shot that one. Lightning fast. PENS 3, LIGHTNING 1

19:26: Neal hustles across the slot to be a pass option for Malkin, who opts to take it and places the puck right in his linemate's wheelhouse. Neal then one-times a scorcher far side past Garon for his second goal of the game!!! PENS 3, LIGHTNING 0

20:00: Puck drops to start the third. Pens start the period with 1:46 left on the penalty to Downie. Game on!

- Pens have held Bolts sniper Steven Stamkos without a shot
- Malkin leads the Pens with 15:36 minutes played
- Not to jinx anything, but Pittsburgh is 13-0-2 this season when leading after 2

0:00: First 40 minutes are in the books. Pens still have a 2-0 lead and they've increased their shot total to 32 as opposed to Tampa's 13.

0:14: A frustrated Downie takes another penalty, this time a roughing call on Cooke. Pens will end this period on the power play.

2:26: Forgot to note the Bolts killed off that Pens PP. Sorry guys!

3:53: Dana Tyrell just inadvertently high-sticked Neal in the slot and the Pens forward goes down holding his face. He goes to the bench to get tended to by the trainer. He's OK, don't worry folks.

5:07: Small scrum erupts after Downie boards Adams hard into the boards. The Bolts forward is penalized and Pens head to their third PP of the afternoon!

7:18: Lucky break for the Pens here as Malone whacks a puck out of midair into the cage, but the call on the ice is that it's no goal because it's a high stick. And the video review upholds the ruling. Whew!

8:42: Lovejoy tees off a blast from the point that tings loudly off the far side goal post! Garon = thanking the hockey gods.

11:11: Bolts are paying the price blocking shots, but are having trouble moving the puck out of their zone.

12:54: Play's slowed down a bit as Pens are getting shots off the transition, but Garon's seeing them all the way and is covering them for the whistle.

15:00: Tampa Bay's game entertainment team just played Journey's "Separate Ways" and I immediately started laughing. Let me divert from the action for a second to explain why. Sam absolutely LOVES the music video for this song. In fact, he loves it so much he wrote a novel explaining all the reasons why when Detroit came to town last season. Click here and scroll all the way to the bottom if you want a good chuckle. OK, back to the game.

17:44: Park with another great opportunity in the slot but this time, his shot rings off the post!!! Sooo close!

20:00: Puck drops to start the second. Let's hope the Pens build off their strong first!

- Pens are 7-0 when they score first against Tampa Bay
- Park's goal was his first in 6 games since returning from injury Jan. 6
- Pens' PP is 1-for-2 so improvement over their 1-for-24 stretch their last 5 regular-season games in Tampa

0:00: That'll do it for the first. Pens hold a 2-0 lead on goals from Neal and Park. They also hold an impressive 17-5 edge in shots.

3:59: Bolts showing some life here on a shift that includes Lecavalier sliding a puck through the crease when he had Fleury out of position! He drops his shoulders and looks to the sky. Bolts are on that kind of run Pens can relate to.

5:40: Bolts back to full strength.

6:42: Yikes! Thompson nearly gets a breakaway but his momentum carries him out of scoring position. So he opts to pass to Pyatt in the slot, but Fleury stones him point blank!!!

7:53: Neal draws a penalty on Kubina and Pens will head back to the PP!

8:35: Pittsburgh's fourth line won an O zone faceoff and drove the net hard, getting a series of opportunities right around the blue paint. Total team effort right now

9:22: Park displays some silky mitts when he toe drags around Tom Pyatt on the blue line, carries into the slot and beats Garon stick side with a wrister!!! Unassisted goal for Park! PENS 2, LIGHTNING 0

13:36: We've got our first fight of the game as Engelland and Pierre-Cedric Labrie. Engo just showering him with punches...he definitely gets the decision in this bout.

15:35: Kunitz gets a couple of cracks from point-blank range as Pens swarm the net but Garon stands his ground. Pitt's top line definitely showing up again today!

17:17: And the Pens strike with just 3 seconds left on the man-advantage! Geno gives the puck to Martin, who'd just gotten on the ice for his shift and is coming in the zone. He backhands a pass to Neal, who's behind the goal line. He fires from the bad angle and it banks between Garon's pads into the back of the net! PENS 1, LIGHTNING 0

SIDENOTE: That goal reminds me of another sharp-angle Neal tally against this team...

19:14: Pens get an early PP opportunity as Stamkos hooks Malkin, pulling him to the ground. Nice way to start off a game, that's for sure!

20:00: Puck drops to start the first, kicking off this afternoon matinee. Game on!

12:50 PM:
Pens opt to go with the same lines as Friday, scratching Vitale.



Fleury in goal. Garon in net for Tampa.

11:46 AM:
As he does on all game days where the team does not have a morning skate, head coach Dan Bylsma addressed the media a little while ago. He said that Marc-Andre Fleury will start in goal and the rest of his lineup will remain the same.

NOTE: Per the Lightning's official Twitter (@TBLightning), Mathieu Garon will start in goal and Marc-Andre Bergeron will miss his second-straight game.

Bylsma spoke at length about the's what he had to say about the opponent:

On the key to slowing down Stamkos and the Lightning:
There are a number of things they do really well and where they produce their offense. They’re extremely good around the net. They jam there as a tactic. (Stamkos) is a guy who has gotten a lot of goals around that net that way. So we’ll be focused on not just him, but trying to keep them away from that net-front area and protecting that area. Be aware of the plays they try to make and minimize those opportunities. Special teams are always a factor. When you try and stop Stamkos, you’ve got to keep them off the power play and then you have to be aware of where he’s at and how dangerous he is with his shot and his one-timer. Those are some keys against them. And managing the puck in the neutral zone is big. They try to slow down with the 1-3-1. They are very quick in counterattacking and turnovers can lead to those opportunities for their skilled players.

On Stamkos producing but his team not getting wins:
I hope we never have that problem. I think he’s a talented player whether you’re winning 10 in a row or not. He’s dangerous on the power play no matter where they’re at (in the standings). He could always be in those spots regardless of the outcome of the game, which is why it’s such a dangerous team and why you have to be aware of him. Whether they’re playing well or not, if they get five power plays tonight they could potentially be a very, very dangerous team to try to beat if that’s the case. I can see easily him doing really well regardless of their wins and losses.

On the 1-3-1 trap:
We do try to alter what we do. The key is that we don’t want to go into the game with the mindset that we have to get into that altered state more than a handful of times. If we get into it 12 times, it’s not going to be the type of flow in the game that we want. Our mantra against this team is ‘quick.’ We do have an altered neutral zone transition against them if and when we do need it. Hopefully we’ll get into that state, into that slower game, less than five times. So we do have a different transition and mindset, but also the quicker you can go, the less they can get into that 1-3-1.

11:30 AM:
Good afternoon everyone! Today's 1 p.m. matinee against Tampa Bay marks the earliest game of the season thus far for Pittsburgh, and the Pens are looking to close out their three-game road trip with a big win over last year's playoff foe in sunny Florida.

The Pens snapped their six-game losing streak on Friday against the Panthers and today they'll be looking to prevent the Bolts from stopping one of their own, as Tampa Bay is winless in its last six (0-5-1) – a slide that's plummeted them to the very bottom of the Eastern Conference standings. It's a huge game for both teams, as the Pens need to build on their victory over Florida while the proud Bolts are desperate to climb out of their funk.

I went ahead and did a thorough scouting report on the Lightning if you're up early and would like a little pregame reading. If you're more of a visual person, the abbreviated video is below:

Despite the early start, Steve Mears and PensTV were hard at work putting together the Game Day Report for today's matchup. So without further ado, here it is:

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