Pens' power play difference in gameby Michelle Crechiolo @PensInsideScoop / Penguins Team Reporter
Entering Saturday's game against the Lightning, one storyline was about how Pittsburgh's 25th ranked penalty kill would fare against Tampa Bay's top-ranked power play.
That talk had reversed following Pittsburgh's 5-2 win at PPG Paints Arena.
The Penguins' power play was the difference in the game, striking three times - with all three goals coming during 5-on-3 play. Sidney Crosby had two while Phil Kessel scored one.
"I don't know if that's happened before," laughed Patric Hornqvist after the game. "When you have a two-man advantage you need to score and I think we did a really good job today. We had different looks. We shot the puck when it was there and when we got those guys on the ice at the same time, they find those seams and it looks easy for them. They did a good job."
Two of those goals actually came on the same sequence. With 3:48 remaining in the first period, Ondrej Palat high-sticked Crosby and drew blood, earning a double minor. While he was in the box, Anton Stralman tripped Conor Sheary and joined his teammate in timeout.
The Pens went with Kris Letang and Justin Schultz on the points - "Both those two shoot the puck and I think our mindset going into the game was we have to make sure we shoot the puck and retrieve and go from there," said Hornqvist, who joined Crosby and Kessel up top.
Letang went to take a shot and his stick broke, the puck popping free in the slot. Lightning defenseman Dan Girardi went to clear it, but before he could get to it, Hornqvist lifted his stick and stole the puck for himself. He passed it to Crosby, who fired it across to Kessel at the backdoor for the goal.
"He worked so hard and on that one goal, it was all him," Schultz said of Hornqvist. "He created it. Second effort and he does that every night, so it's good."
Exactly one minute and 23 seconds later, Kessel returned the favor to Crosby. He simply put the puck on net through traffic, where Crosby was waiting at the crease. He reached out and re directed it past Lightning goalie Peter Budaj for the score.
"Phil did a good job getting up high and finding the open seams, moving the puck," said Schultz, who earned a pair of power-play assists. "Got shots and it worked tonight."
Crosby struck again just 4:41 into the third period, when the Penguins received their second lengthy 5-on-3. He had the puck all alone at the right faceoff dot, and sniped it far side past Budaj.
"It was a good night. A couple 5-on-3s out there, so that's nice," Kessel said. "We needed that win tonight."