The Lightning defeated a difficult Metropolitan Division team in overtime on the road for the second consecutive night and secured their eighth win in a row overall with a 2-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins. The win pulls the Lightning within one point of the Atlantic Division leading Boston Bruins with an equal number of games played. Boston is in action next against the Canadiens tomorrow.
The Pens opened the scoring in the first period on a power play goal by Evegeni Malkin. He collected a long rebound off a Sidney Crosby shot that basically functioned as a cross ice pass giving Andrei Vasilevskiy almost no time to get across and make the save. The Lightning tied the game in the second period on a power play goal of their own from Mikhail Sergachev. He set up in the top of the zone between the circles and floated a wrister over Matt Murray’s shoulder.
The game started to go sideways for the Lightning in the second period though as first, Anthony Cirelli suffered an injury blocking a shot. He returned to the game briefly but eventually left for good. Next, Nikita Kucherov joined him in the locker room following an awkward collision along the boards. The team announced both players had lower body injuries and would not return.
With those two out in addition to Steven Stamkos, Ryan McDonagh, and Jan Rutta, the Lightning entered the third period in rough shape. It seemed inevitable that the Pens would eventually score to take the lead. But instead, Vasilevskiy shut down every chance and the Bolts survived to overtime.
In OT, the Pens possessed the puck for nearly two minutes straight to start. The Lightning skaters were so gassed that they could barely carry the puck out of the zone. But after managing to complete a line change, Yanni Gourde of all people received a pass on the rush and promptly roofed one to snap his goal scoring drought and send everyone home.
This game was almost dead even on the stat sheet, which again, considering the circumstances, is an incredible performance by the Lightning. They started strong in the first period despite giving up the first goal and their ability to bend but not break after the injuries has to give this group some confidence.
This was one of the most electrifying wins of the season. The Pens are a stout opponent. The Lightning had the deck stacked against them with all the injuries. It seemed an impossible hill to climb in the third period. And then Yanni Gourde comes through as the hero in overtime. For a Tuesday night game in February, it really doesn’t get any better than this.
The prize for this performance is that the division lead is now in reach. The Bruins and Bolts have played 57 games each and only one point separates them. After trailing Boston but having games in hand for much of the season, the Lightning have cashed in those games and will have a chance to make a run at securing home ice advantage in the playoffs.
Malkin goal to make it 1-0
Sergachev goal to tie it 1-1
Gourde game winner