Tampa Bay Lightning Strike Down Pittsburgh Penguins To End Home Stand

Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

The Tampa Bay Lightning took the Pittsburgh Penguins to the limit as the Lightning defeat the Penguins 6-3 to finish off their eight-game home stand.

The Tampa Bay Lightning may have gotten off to a rough start this season, but over the course of the last few months the Lightning has really started to find their groove and get back to winning game. As the Lightning look for their third straight win, the Bolts had a new challenge in front of them…the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Tonight is not the first time these two teams have met this season. In the first encounter between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Pittsburgh Penguins, which happened on January 15th, the Lightning were able to overcome the Penguins 5-4 in overtime thanks to a hat trick from Lightning center Vladislav Namestnikov.

The Lightning would come out of the tunnel with a spark; however, it wasn’t long before the spark seemed to fizzle out and the Penguins would take control of the course of the game. Just before the five minute mark in the game, the Penguins would strike first blood.

Andrej Sustr and Alex Killorn would play the puck against the boards, but Penguins left wing Chris Kunitz would beat the duo and send the puck out to Patric Hornqvist. Hornqvist raced towards the net, just beating Lightning defenseman Jason Garrison to send the puck flying past Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop and into the back of the net.

It would take until just past the halfway point in the period, but eventually the Tampa Bay Lightning would be able to fight back and make Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury work for his money tonight. Tyler Johnson soared behind the Penguins net where he found the perfectly positioned Anton Stralman. Without hesitation, Stralman pulled back his stick and beat Fleury on the glove side to tie the game for the Lightning.

Tonight’s encounter was definitely a strange one for the Tampa Bay Lightning, and more specifically their fans. It’s not every night you can sit back and watch your team get dominated on the ice in the first period and yet still head into the first intermission with the lead. Alas, this is exactly what the Tampa Bay Lightning has done.

Nikita Kucherov would play the puck along the boards in the Penguins zone. As the pressure came down on him, Kucherov simply took the shot. On the path between the stick of Kucherov and the back of the net, the puck would be tipped by both Tyler Johnson and Alex Killorn. The good news, the puck indeed found the back of the net. This would give the Tampa Bay Lightning the lead heading into the first intermission.

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At 18:56 in the period, Penguins defenseman Kris Letang would find himself with a one-way ticket to the sin bin for Roughing against Valtteri Filppula. The penalty would carry over into the second period; unfortunately, the Tampa Bay Lightning would not be able to capitalize.

Initially, it was rather troubling to see the Tampa Bay Lightning with a mere five shots in the first period. At the same time, heading into the intermission with two goals on five shots is not the worst way the first period could have ended. At the same time, the Tampa Bay Lightning would have to turn on the afterburners in the second period if they wanted to remain on top of the Penguins.

Just before the five minute mark in the second period, defenseman Jason Garrison would find himself headed to the sin bin for Slashing on Chris Kunitz. This would give the Penguins their first chance with the man advantage tonight. Unfortunately for the Penguins, the Lightning had absolutely no intention of allowing them to capitalize on the opportunity.

Just inside the Lightning zone, Chris Kunitz would be forced to turn over the puck by Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos. Ondrej Palat would come up with the puck as Stamkos served as a slight buffer. Palat simply charged down the ice towards Fleury on a shorthanded breakaway. Ondrej Palat would pull back his stick and snipe Fleury right through the five hole to extend the Lightning’s lead to two.

Unfortunately for the Tampa Bay Lightning, Penguins captain Sidney Crosby couldn’t simply stand by and watch his team go down in flames. Hornqvist would battle with defenseman Braydon Coburn for possession of the puck. When the puck finally came loose, it would be Kunitz who would come up with the puck. Kunitz would send the puck to a patiently waiting Crosby would, in turn, would beat Bishop to narrow the Lightning’s lead to one.

Earlier in the game, we mentioned a little something about Tyler Johnson on Twitter.

While Johnson may not have received credit for the goal when all was said and done (he did get an assist, though), we said if Johnson finally managed to get hot the rest of the league was in trouble. Well…about that. A little over a minute after the Crosby goal, the Tampa Bay Lightning would come up with a goal of their own. Who was responsible for this feat? Why, it was Tyler Johnson…who else?

The Lightning would battle for possession in the Penguins’ zone. Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman would keep the puck in the zone and send it along to Nikita Kucherov. Kucherov would look ahead and see Tyler Johnson in a prime position. With a flick of his wrist, Kucherov would send the puck to Johnson who would put the puck past Fleury and into the back of the net.

Tyler Johnson’s Power Play Goal would be the final goal of the night for Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury. Penguins Head Coach Mike Sullivan would pull Fleury from between the pipes. In his place would come Penguins goaltender Jeff Zatkoff. Zatkoff would be able to keep the puck out of the back of the net for the remainder of the period, but the Tampa Bay Lightning would still lead the Penguins 4-2 heading into the second intermission.

Less than a minute into the third period, the Pittsburgh Penguins would once again narrow the Tampa Bay Lightning’s lead to one. Penguins left wing Carl Hagelin would carry the puck into the zone, quickly handing it off to Phil Kessel. Moments later, Penguins center Matt Cullen would get his stick on the puck, fire off a snap shot and beat Ben Bishop to reduce the Lightning’s lead to one once again.

Tampa Bay Lightning Head Coach Jon Cooper would challenge the goal, claiming the puck was offside on the play. There was no denying Coach Cooper was right to make the call on this one. Considering how close the difference was, it took the refs quite a bit to come to a conclusion. Unfortunately for the Bolts, when all was said and done the call on the ice would stand and the Tampa Bay Lightning would sacrifice their time out.

While this may seem like a bad thing, the time it took the referees to review the play took a lot of steam out of the Penguins’ momentum and may very well end up being a game changer for the Bolts.

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As time continued to tick off the clock, the Penguins would really start to apply pressure to the Tampa Bay Lightning in the hopes of getting back in control of the game, or at the very least sending the Eastern Conference contest to overtime. The momentum seemed to be sparked when Penguins goaltender Jeff Zatkoff absolutely robbed Lightning right wing Erik Condra of what (under normal circumstances) would have been a clear goal.

Thankfully, the Tampa Bay Lightning was able to quell the tide of the Penguins with just over four minutes left in the game. Vladislav Namestnikov keeps the puck in the offensive zone, handing it off to Steven Stamkos. Stamkos takes the shot, but it is turned away by Zatkoff. Unfortunately for Zatkoff, he was completely blown out when Ondrej Palat screened him and sunk the rebound in the back of the net.

Pittsburgh Penguins Head Coach Mike Sullivan would elect to pull goaltender Jeff Zatkoff with just around three minutes left in the game. Unfortunately, this move would ultimately backfire as the Tampa Bay Lightning would add insult to injury with an empty net goal from Anton Stralman.

As the final seconds would tick off the clock, the Amalie Arena would erupt into cheers as the Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins 6-3 to finish off their eight-game home stand. The Tampa Bay Lightning have won nine of their last 10 games. The Bolts have also won their last eight games at the Amalie Arena in front of their home town fans.

All in all, the Tampa Bay Lightning may have gotten off to a slow start tonight, but the Lightning powered back when it really mattered. The Bolts pushed the Penguins to the limit, and then another couple feet further.

The Tampa Bay Lightning will have the weekend off before they have to get down to business once again. On Monday night, the Lightning will head to the Canadian Tire Centre to take on Erik Karlsson and the Ottawa Senators. The Tampa Bay Lightning has come out on top in their first two meetings this season, so it will be interesting to see how things unfold on Monday night.

Next: Lightning Look For Continued Success Against The Penguins

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