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Game 40 recap: Tampa Bay Lightning lose again in Pittsburgh, 6-3 to Penguins

The Tampa Bay Lightning find a new way to lose to the Pittsburgh Penguins, falling 6-3 at CONSOL Energy Center.

Matt Kincaid/Getty Images

The open from the last loss in Pittsburgh, just 18 days ago, is oddly fitting following a 6-3 win at home for the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday night:

One day, the Tampa Bay Lightning will win a game in Pittsburgh again.

Monday was not that day.

The Lightning's struggles in Pittsburgh continued as a poor start and some big errors uncharacteristic of the team's overall play this season proved costly in a 6-3 loss.

While the Bolts continue to be a formidable team at 5v5, special teams in the first period continued to struggle; Chris Kunitz opened the scoring with a rebound goal in front of the net as he beat Victor Hedman to a loose puck and chopped it in for a 1-0 lead.

Andrew Ebbett extended the lead on a controversial tally scored while strobe lights flashed on Lightning netminder Ben Bishop after an Evgeni Malkin shot hit the post. Ebbett, the third man in on the rush, went unmarked and lifted a backhander into the net as the goal horn continued to sound for the Malkin non-goal. Malkin would follow up with an actual tally pouncing on a loose puck in the crease on a play that began with a Steven Stamkos giveaway on an attempted zone exit.

Brian Boyle stopped the bleeding for the Lightning late in the period from right in front of the net to give the Lightning a fighting chance heading into the first intermission.

The Bolts got a better start in the middle frame, and Victor Hedman would finally cash in on a continuing pushback effort from a Lightning team down by a pair. He banked a shot into the net off of Thomas Greiss' glove from below the goal line to bring the Bolts within a goal.

Unfortunately, special teams would fail the Bolts once again as a long 5v4 shift in Tampa's end ultimately ended with a Christian Ehrhoff tally on a long slap shot just after the power play expired. Anton Stralman got tangled up off the offensive zone draw that started the play as Nick Spaling's stick ended up underneath his visor. Play went on, however, as the Pens worked the puck deep then back to Ehrhoff to extend their lead. Pittsburgh built off that goal with a few more scoring chances late in the second period. The Bolts went into the second intermission with a 2-goal hole to try and crawl out of in the third.

The Pens came out in the third with a typical "two goal lead in the third period at home" gameplan, trying to bog down the Lightning and just defend the lead. The Lightning did what they could to crack the defensive structure, culminating in a long shift in Pittsburgh's end about halfway through that ended with a Pittsburgh timeout, finally beating Greiss again with less than 9 minutes remaining on an Alex Killorn rush around Simon Despres. Killorn then tucked it in past an outstretched pad to give the Bolts some life; however, that wouldn't last long. Steve Downie answered to restore the two-goal lead on a wrister from the slot after Victor Hedman went down to try and block the shot and failed.

The Lightning generated a few good chances late in the period with a 6v5 advantage, but Stamkos missed high and Ondrej Palat took a shot from the slot right into Greiss' midsection as the Bolts failed to score with the net empty. Steve Downie added the empty net tally for the 6-3 final.

Game Notes
  • So, this happened. (Warning: kinda gross.)
  • I'm not sure what to say about Pittsburgh's second goal that hasn't already been said; the shot was in close and came off the stick in an odd fashion that surprised Bishop. He appeared to track the puck's location fine, and the puck did beat him cleanly. Still, strobe lights flashing on a goaltender during play while he is attempting to perform his job is unacceptable. In slow motion, you can see that the light flashes 9 times on Bishop as Andrew Ebbet closes in to attempt his backhander. Can you imagine the stink Canadian media would make if that happened to Carey Price or Jonathan Bernier?
  • Also; that Jon Cooper and Ben Bishop would both downplay the effect of the horn and lights is expected. That's coach and playerspeak. They downplay everything. "Should have made the play anyways." Well, I'm not a coach, I'm a blogger. So here's some bloggerspeak: That goal was bullshit.
  • Sidney Crosby finished with 4 assists, Evgeni Malkin with a goal and an assist and a memorable shot of the goalpost. Pittsburgh's best forwards are always difficult for Tampa Bay to shut down.
  • Brett Connolly saw parts of this game with Steven Stamkos, and while they weren't able to cash in on the scoresheet there might be something to that combination. Connolly, strangely enough, has been driving play rather well in his limited minutes; he finished the evening with just 3 shot attempts toward the Lightning net while he was on the ice and 10 headed the other direction (+31.57% CorsiRel). With the so-called "Triplets" still clicking as of late, Tampa Bay needs to find permanent wingers for its captain, and fast. Coupling Connolly's already-good scoring ability (top 30 in the NHL in 5v5 goals/60) with the ability to control the puck would be a good start to earning that spot alongside 91.