The Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Consol Energy Center as Lightning captain Steven Stamkos scores his 300th NHL goal.
The Tampa Bay Lightning had plenty to prove when they charged into the Consol Energy Center this afternoon. The Lightning was able to squeeze out a win in the shootout on Thursday night against the Winnipeg Jets, but it would take a much more concerted effort by the Bolts if they hoped to emerge victorious against a team like the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Much like Thursday night, the Tampa Bay Lightning came out of the tunnel ready to play. While the Pittsburgh Penguins may have controlled the puck a little more and really made Ben Bishop work for every inch, it would be the Tampa Bay Lightning who would strike first blood in today’s Saturday matinee.
It would be Lightning defenseman Anton Stralman, who seems to be in beast mode as of late, who would open up the scoring for the Tampa Bay Lightning. The assists on the goal would go to Lightning center Vladislav Namestnikov, who is back in the lineup today after missing two games with an upper-body injury, and rookie Jonathan Marchessault.
Just two minutes after the Stralman goal, the Tampa Bay Lightning would reach an important milestone. At 11:20 in the first period, Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos would score his 24th goal of the season to give the Lightning a 2-0 lead over the Penguins. This very same goal just happened to be the captain’s 300th career goal.
As the buzzer sounded to end the first period of play, the Tampa Bay Lightning would lead the Pittsburgh Penguins 2-0. Surprisingly enough, when it came to shots on goal, it would be the Penguins who would dominate the Lightning. The Penguins would outshoot the Lightning 17-9 in the first 20 minutes of play.
This is where things start to get interesting. As most of you know by now, the Tampa Bay Lightning had a commanding lead over the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday night heading into the second period when all of a sudden their game took a turn for the worse and the Jets ended up taking the Lightning’s commanding lead away. In the beginning, it looked as if the Tampa Bay Lightning were on the path to success.
Just 3:14 into the second period, Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Matt Carle would pull back his stick, fire off the puck, and send it sailing past Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Jeff Zatkoff and into the back of the net. This served as Carle’s first goal of the season and his second point of the night.
Unfortunately, a good portion of the remainder of the second period of play would be all about the Pittsburgh Penguins. Just over two minutes after the goal by Matt Carle, the Penguins would capitalize on the Lightning’s special teams issues and capture a shorthanded goal. It would be Penguins right wing Tom Kuhnhackl who would put the Penguins on the board.
As you can easily imagine, the Tampa Bay Lightning couldn’t simply sit on the sidelines and watch the Penguins dwindle down their hard-earned lead. Tyler Johnson would find himself in the right place at the right time as he would tip in a shot from his partner-in-crime Ondrej Palat to extend the Lightning’s lead to three.
Unfortunately, the Penguins were determined to regain some of their ground before they headed up the tunnel for the second intermission. It would be Penguins left wing Scott Wilson who would pierce the veil of Ben Bishop and send the puck flying into the back of the net. This was Wilson’s second goal of the season.
Once again, when the buzzer sounded to end the second period of play, the Tampa Bay Lightning would lead the 4-2 but again it would be the Pittsburgh Penguins who would outshoot the Bolts, this time, 9-6 for a two period total of 26-15.
When these two teams, who are battling for a Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference, came back to the ice for the third period of play things would heat up exponentially. While the scoreboard may not reflect this assertion, all you need to do is glance at the penalty summary to see what we mean.
Just over the halfway point in the third period, Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang would get into a scuffle with Lightning center Cedric Paquette along the boards. When everything broke loose, Letang would take off with Paquette’s stick. As you can imagine, this is not exactly legal.
After being called on the penalty, Letang was hit with another two-minute penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct. This would give the Lightning a four-minute opportunity with the man advantage. Unfortunately, the Lightning’s special teams woes continue as the Lightning were incapable of capitalizing on their opportunity.
As time continued to tick off the clock and the game was nearing its end, the Tampa Bay Lightning were dealt yet another blow in regards to injuries. As the Penguins made a last-ditch effort to pull out a win in front of their hometown fans, Cedric Paquette would sacrifice his body to make a save. Unfortunately, the shot would cost a little more than he was prepared to give.
Paquette took the shot right on his ankle and had to be helped off the ice by Braydon Coburn and Brian Boyle. Needless to say, Paquette headed down the tunnel early, unable to put weight on his left ankle. Hopefully, this was just a really bad stinger and not another injury to the young forward.
When the final buzzer would sound, the Tampa Bay Lightning would defeat the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-2. The Lightning complete a season sweep of the Penguins with tonight’s win at the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh.
There are still plenty of aspects of the Tampa Bay Lightning’s game that need work; namely the special teams. At the same time, tonight’s win was a much better effort than the team put up on Thursday night at the Amalie Arena. One of the real surprises of the night was the performance of Lightning defenseman Matt Carle. Carle not only scored his first goal of the season but picked up an assist as well for a total of two points.
Unfortunately, the Tampa Bay Lightning don’t have time to celebrate tonight’s win. Tomorrow night, the Tampa Bay Lightning get back to business as they charge into the PNC Arena tomorrow night to face off with the Carolina Hurricanes.
The puck is scheduled to drop at 7:00 p.m. tomorrow night in Raleigh. What do you think will be the key to the Tampa Bay Lightning finishing off their back-to-back weekend series on a high note? Let us know what you think in the comments below.