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Pens-Lightning In-Game Blog

by Michelle Crechiolo / Pittsburgh Penguins


0:00: That'll do it! Pens earn a resounding 8-1 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning! Malkin got a hat trick, Staal got two goals and Cooke, Kunitz and Dupuis got the others.

0:47: Dupuis gets on the board to make it 8-1 Pittsburgh. PENS 8, BOLTS 1

2:22: Malkin has also pulled ahead of Stamkos in the NHL scoring race, as the Bolts forward is pointless and Geno has three goals and an assist. They entered the game tied with 73 points apiece.

6:18: With 54 seconds left on the man-advantage, Neal powers to the net and gets a shot off. Malkin drives straight to the net and shovels home the rebound despite being surrounded by a sea of white jerseys!!! The beautiful thing about that play was that Brewer nearly got to it first, but Malkin lifted his stick with a solid individual effort to get the puck for himself. HAT TRICK FOR MALKIN! PENS 7, BOLTS 1

7:24: With 25 seconds left on his team's power play, Connolly gets called for slashing. Pens will be on the man-advantage shortly.

8:59: Vitale heads to the box for tripping. Tampa Bay to the power play.

     "@PensInsideScoop Lemieux-like no doubt. He is unstoppable right now. #pens #geno #mvp"


11:45: Malkin now has seven goals in four games against the Lightning this year. I wonder what last year's playoff series with Tampa would have been like with Geno in the lineup?

14:10: Wow. Just wow. Evgeni Malkin shows why he's the best player in the NHL with the incredible goal he just scored. Geno gets the puck in the neutral zone and carries down the center of the ice. He pulls the puck through Brett Clark's legs and dekes Roloson, tucking it under his right pad for the score. Goal of the year right there. Chants of "MVP! MVP!" erupt at CONSOL Energy Center after the score. PENS 6, BOLTS 1

18:23: Geno is released and the Pens go back to full strength. Solid work by Staal on that PK to clear the zone and get a scoring chance.

20:00: Puck drops to start the third. Pens have 1:37 left on the penalty to Malkin. Game on!

(Getty Images)

Wow. Not quite sure how to sum up what happened during that period, which was quite a wild ride. Marc-Andre Fleury was the star of the show, as he came up with save after dazzling save on Bolts players who broke free to bear down on him with time and space. There were also plenty of scrums after whistles as emotions ran high for both clubs, resulting in a lot of special teams play. Staal would get a PP score, while Malkin struck for an even-strength tally and Tampa's Teddy Purcell scored with the man-advantage.

- Staal has two goals today, one shorthanded and one on the power play.
- Kunitz and Malkin each have a goal and an assist
- Sullivan now has points in three straight games

0:00: The Pens take a 5-1 lead into the second intermission. They'll start the third period with 1:37 left on Malkin's penalty. Tampa has a 25-21 edge in shots.

0:23: Pens will end the period on another penalty kill, as Malkin is called for hooking.

2:32: And Purcell manages to get one past Fleury. PP score for Tampa. PENS 5, BOLTS 1

2:59: After play leaves the Bolts zone, Vitale and Mikkelson go at it by Tampa's net for a spirited bout. 'Joey V.' gets an extra two for goalie interference, which Sullivan will serve, and that means the Lightning are getting a PP.

3:57: Malkin strikes to make it 5-0! Kunitz feeds him with a pass that Malkin blasts from a sharp angle - the corner of the zone - to beat Roloson far side! PENS 5, BOLTS 0

4:19: Niskanen is released and the Pens go back to full strength.

6:19: Niskanen gets called for high sticking and Pens head to the PK.

8:37: We're all back to full strength. This game has been quite a wild ride so far. I can barely keep up with the play-by-play!

     " Staal is among the best special teams guys in the league."


9:49: Neal makes a heads-up breakout pass from behind his own net to send Staal and Sullivan on a 2-on-2 opportunity. Sullivan threads a pass through the two Bolts to Staal, who taps it past a sliding Roloson for his second goal of the game! A power-play one this time around for No. 11. PENS 4, BOLTS 0

11:06: Now Brendan Mikkelson is in the sin bin for hooking. Pens have a 4-on-3 power play.

11:37: Malkin dances around the Bolts and gets a shot to the cage. Roloson takes a jab at him after the play, Malkin responds and Hedman goes after 'Geno.' A big scrum erupts and when the dust settles, Malkin and Smith are both in the box. We'll be 4-on-4 for the next two minutes.

     "A brick wall couldn't do the job Fleury is doing right now."


14:01: Now it's Martin St. Louis who gets free for a breakaway on Fleury, but he denies the feisty Lightning forward then as well! Fleury is playing out of his mind right now. The unreal saves he's making are a combination of instinct, athleticism and just plain talent.

14:09: Angelidis and Engelland drop the gloves for a bout and both go to the box. Tangradi and Sullivan come over to drop off the pieces of Engo's equipment that got discarded in the fight. What nice teammates.

     "From the looks of it Flower ate his Wheaties this morning, and Dwayne Roloson's too. #Pens @pghpenguins"


14:52: Another huge save from Flower!!! Smith had a point blank shot just above the crease and a wide-open net to boot, but Fleury somehow slid over and did the splits to make a dazzling kick save!

15:51: Big sequence of saves by Fleury just now. Steven Stamkos got behind the Pens defenders for a mini breakaway, but Fleury was able to get his glove on it and knock it out of danger! Then Stamkos managed to get a second look at the cage, but Fleury denied him on that one as well! Chants of "Fleury! Fleury" rang through the arena after that one!

20:00: Puck drops to start the second. Game on!

(Getty Images)

The Pens honored two Tuskegee Airmen from Pittsburgh during the first period of today's game. Wendell Freeland and Dr. Harry Lanauze received Penguins jerseys that were presented by Pens CEO David Morehouse and senior advisor Ron Porter as part of Black History Month.
The Tuskegee Airmen were a group of African-American pilots who fought in World War II – the first African-American aviators in the U.S.armed forces. Mr. Freeland and Dr. Lanauze received a richly-deserved ovation for their services. Very cool!

You really couldn't ask for a better start from the Pens. They got their first two goals within a 50-second span just over halfway through the period and added a third shortly after to give them three tallies in 3:31 minutes. It's the most goals Pittsburgh has scored in the opening frame since tallying four times vs. Buffalo on Dec. 17. However, this game is far from over, especially against a Lightning squad that's known for coming back when they seem down and out (remember when they rallied from a 3-0 deficit vs. Pittsburgh on Jan. 13 in Tampa)?

- Staal's goal was his 20th of the season. He's now hit that mark for the fourth time in six seasons
- Staal also won 75 percent of his draws, going 6-2 in the faceoff dot
- Martin leads the Pens with 2:28 shorthanded minutes

0:00: That'll do it for the first. Pens have a 3-0 lead thanks to goals from Kunitz, Cooke and Staal (shorthanded). Shots are 11-9 in favor of Tampa.

0:32: Fleury with another magnificent sprawling save on Thompson, who powered his way past Orpik to the net.

1:27: Dupuis nearly gets the puck on a silver corner at the backdoor of the net with Roloson out of position, but it gets knocked away at the last second!

3:55: Sorry, forgot to note that Michalek is out of the box and the Pens are back to full strength.

     "Holy smokes Jordan Staal short-handed breakaway!!! Shave my face with a rusty razor!!! #MikeLange #Pens"


5:20: As Victor Hedman tries to hold the blue line, the puck bounces out of the zone and as he turns to retrieve it, his way is blocked by a linesman. That opens the door for Staal to grab the puck and get a breakway that he converts for his 20th of the season! Unassisted shorthanded tally for Jordan! PENS 3, BOLTS 0

6:06: Michalek gets his second minor penalty for interference. Pens back to the PK.

     "Cookies been working up to a breakout all season. It's come the last month for sure. #pens"

8:01: And before I was finished typing that last entry, the Pens strike again! Vitale grabs a rebound and sends a knuckling pass over to Cooke, who whacks it top shelf past Roloson for the goal! PENS 2, BOLTS 0

8:51: Malkin posts up squarely behind the Bolts net and feeds Kunitz with a pass, who tees off a Neal-esque shot past Roloson for the score! Roloson didn't have a stick on the play; it broke as he tried to pokecheck Neal. PENS 1, BOLTS 0

9:36: Bolts starting to find their footing, it seems. Malone tries to stuff a wraparound past Fleury, who keeps it out with his pad. 'Bugsy' keeps whacking at the puck, but 'Flower' does a great job of staying tight to his posts.

10:41: Trevor Smith gets a mini breakaway, but Fleury comes out to challenge him and makes a fantastic sprawling save on the Lightning forward!

14:54: Penalty expires and Michalek is released. Fleury made a great, athletic toe save on Nate Thompson 10 seconds before the Pens went back to full strength.

16:54: Michalek gets called for high sticking and the Pens will head to the PK early. They're using Martin, Orpik, Staal and Cooke as their first four out. Martin was excellent shorthanded Tuesday vs. NYR with Orpik out of the lineup.

18:52: Mad scramble in front of the Pens net just now as a loose puck was lying right around the crease with Fleury down. Luckily, the team is able to clear and head back down the other way.

20:00: Puck drops to start the first. Game on!

1:00 PM:
It's official: Orpik and Niskanen are both in. Lovejoy, Jeffrey and Johnson are scratched. The line combos...



Fleury between the pipes. Dwayne Roloson is in goal for Tampa.

12:48 PM:
The NHL's top scorers will go head-to-head this afternoon as Evgeni Malkin and Steven Stamkos are tied for the league lead with 73 points apiece. Stamkos has been doing his best to keep the Bolts in a race for a playoff spot even with general manager Steve Yzerman going into rebuilding mode with his team six points out of the picture.

The Bolts have won three of their last four and are 10-4-2 in their last 16 games. Watch the abridged version of the scouting report below:

12:05 PM:
As you may or may not be aware, James Neal is the next player that will be profiled on the all-access series “NHL 36" (More info here).

NHL Original Productions cameras joined Neal this morning and will follow him for the next 36 hours as the Penguins host afternoon games today and tomorrow. We had our intern Brittany wait for James and the crew to arrive at the arena to get some behind-the-scenes photos. Here they are...

12:00 PM:
Good afternoon everyone! It's a great day for hockey here in Pittsburgh. The Pens are getting ready to host the Tampa Bay Lightning here at CONSOL Energy Center, a place the team has certainly been enjoying some success in lately. The Pens are 7-1 in their last eight home games, scoring four or more goals in five of those contests. Hopefully that torrid pace continues here today.

Head coach Dan Bylsma addressed the media earlier this morning, and he said that his lineup will be a game-time decision except for the goaltender, which will be Marc-Andre Fleury. Since the team did not a recall a defenseman from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Bylsma said it's "a good assumption" that either Brooks Orpik or Matt Niskanen will play today.

Orpik missed Tuesday's game vs. NY Rangers with an upper-body injury that has him listed as day-to-day. Niskanen missed Thursday's practice due to illness, but he skated Friday and said he hoped to play today. Stay tuned to the blog for the official lineup.

Brad Thiessen was called up on an emergency basis yesterday to back up Fleury in goal, as Brent Johnson is day-to-day after tweaking something in Thursday's practice.

When asked if Thiessen could start Sunday vs. Columbus, Bylsma responded, "I
t’s certainly a possibility. We’ll see how the situation (is) with Brent and Marc after today."

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