The game was well-played by the Lightning. They took advantage of the Penguins' losing streak, and the fact that they don't play afternoon games well, and turned it into a win. Not only did they have more poise than they've had previously, they also were able to handily maintain their lead - which is something that they've had problems doing all season.
Zenon Konopka scored his second goal of the season. On his birthday, no less. He has potential to become more of a goal scorer, and I think that's a good thing. You want to have players that can do many different jobs. He's known as a fighter, as he leads the NHL in penalty minutes, but he's also a fantastic faceoff man. If he can score 10-15 goals a season, all the better. His goal was the second goal of the game and the game winner.
The story with this game was all about the second line. Mostly Ryan Malone and Martin St. Louis, who between the two, had 13 shots on goal. Steven Stamkos, the center of that line, was practically invisible. Which is an interesting feat in and of itself. Malone was playing against his old team - and his old hometown team - while St. Louis was playing with a fire he hasn't had in a month or so. St. Louis' opening goal was a brilliant backhander that he just roofed.
Mike Smith was fantastic in net. It was probably his best performance all season. It's hard to say whether or not he's regained the number one goaltending position since Rick Tocchet has stated that he'll play the hot goalie, but you'd almost have to think that he has. He was back to his old form last season, stopping almost everything in sight.
Steve Downie has also been playing very well. He has really matured on the ice for the Lightning. On the game threads, we all praise him for walking away from someone who tries to provoke him into doing something rash. That's something he hasn't or wouldn't do even a year ago. And because he's keeping more of a level head, his offensive ability is shining through - and that can only be a good thing. He scored the third goal for the Lightning.
Overall, this was a very good effort. The Lightning played like you'd expect the Penguins to play, and the Penguins played like you'd expect the Lightning would've played. And you can't complain about that.
The Lightning's next game is Wednesday, 6 January, at the Buffalo Sabres. Game time is 7 pm Eastern.
Penguins vs Lightning coverage [SB Nation]
PensBurgh [SB Nation Pittsburgh Penguins site]