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Game 44: Bolts blow lead, rally late, top Penguins 5-4 in OT

The Tampa Bay Lightning saw a two goal lead evaporate in the third period, fell behind by one, rallied late and saw Vladimir Namestnikov finish off a hat trick with the winning goal in overtime, beating the visiting Pittsburgh Penguins 5-4. As a result, the Lightning are now on a season-high four-game winning streak and move into third place in the Atlantic Division.

Tampa Bay's Vladimir Namestnikov scores the game winner in overtime, his third goal of the night, in the Lightning's 5-4 win over Pittsburgh Friday night.
Tampa Bay's Vladimir Namestnikov scores the game winner in overtime, his third goal of the night, in the Lightning's 5-4 win over Pittsburgh Friday night.
Kim Klement, USA TODAY Sports Images

The Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-4 in overtime at Amalie Arena Friday night.

With seven of their next eight games (including this one) at Amalie Arena, it's time for the Lightning to start improving on a mediocre home record of 10-8-2 (prior to tonight). They almost let this one get away, but Vladimir Namestnikov was the hero in a wild, back-and-forth contest, scoring the overtime winner to notch the hat trick in a game that saw the Lightning blow a two-goal lead before rallying late to force the tie at the end of regulation.

Namestnikov scored the first goal of the night, beating Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury up high to give the Lightning the early lead at 1:51 of the opening period. He was assisted by Nikita Nesterov on the play.

Pittsburgh tied it up at 10:37, with Kris Letang scoring on assists from Sidney Crosby and Patric Hornqvist.

The teams headed into the first intermission tied at one.

In the second, the Lightning were beneficiaries of a string of penalties called against Pittsburgh, somewhat similar to a stretch in the second period during the win against Columbus on December 26th.

They cashed in on a 5 on 3 at 8:12 with Valtteri Filppula scoring with help from Tyler Johnson and Steven Stamkos.

Another power play goal came at 10:47 with Namestnikov deflecting Victor Hedman's shot in front of the net to stretch the Tampa Bay lead to 3-1. Filppula contributed the secondary assist.

The Penguins cut into that lead at the 14:23 mark, with Hornqvist scoring on the power play with helpers coming from Evgeni Malkin and Letang.

The Lightning carried the 3-2 lead into the third period.

Pittsburgh tied the game again at 10:13 on a goal from Trevor Daley. Malkin and Phil Kessel offered assistance.

Things looked bleak for the Bolts when the Penguins took the lead for the first time at 13:48. Chris Kunitz scored on assists from Olli Maatta and Hornqvist.

But at 15:21, Anton Stralman spun around and lifted the puck with his back hand to roof the puck in the Penguins net. Filppula and Cedric Paquette had assists on the play.

The teams headed into the overtime tied at four.

At 2:11 of the extra period, Nikita Kucherov managed to keep the puck on the blue line before feeding Namestnikov for the winner, a puck actually directed into the net by Pittsburgh's Hornqvist. The play was briefly reviewed for a possible offsides but was upheld.

The Lightning will host the first-place Florida Panthers on Sunday.

Game notes:

  • This the Lightning's fourth win a row, their longest streak so far this season.
  • The Lightning are now 4-3 in the first games of extended homestands.
  • The Lightning gave up 40 shots, breaking a skein of four games where they gave up 26 or fewer.
  • Andrei Vasilevskiy started in net for the Lightning and stopped 36 of those 40 shots.
  • Tyler Johnson registered a hat trick in a win against the Penguins in their only visit to Amalie Arena last season.
  • The Lightning honored Sandra Dean as the 21st Lightning Community Hero of the 2015-16 season during the first period of tonight's game. Dean, who received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, will donate the money to the Palma Ceia Presbyterian Church. Dean has lived in North Boulevard Homes, Tampa's oldest housing project, for the past 22 years. The community has housed many low income families for many years. In collaboration with Palma Ceia Presbyterian Church, they created FED (Feeding Every Disciple), a program that donates and distributes cereal boxes and other non-perishable items to children in the area. This initiative paved the way in creating several other outreach programs in the Greater Tampa Bay area. As a result, Dean's role has helped change the culture within the North Boulevard Homes community. She has organized events that focus on bringing a sense of community as she hopes for more residents to care for each other and create an opportunity for kids to be themselves in a safe environment. Therefore, Dean has and will continue to go above in beyond in giving back to a community in need. Dean becomes the 200th Lightning Community Hero since Jeff and Penny Vinik introduced the program in 2011-12 with a $10 million, five-season commitment to the Tampa Bay community. Through this evening's game, in total, the Lightning Foundation has granted $10.15 million to more than 300 different non-profits in the Greater Tampa Bay area.