A six-goal outburst from the Pittsburgh Penguins in the second period turned a close game into a rout as the Tampa Bay Lightning lost 7-3 Sunday night. The Penguins scored six times over a 13-minute stretch to erase the Bolts 2-1 lead. Anthony Cirelli and Nikita Kucherov had scored to give them that lead, but Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby, Teddy Blueger, Jeff Carter, Jason Zucker, and Brian Dumoulin all put pucks past Brian Elliott in rapid succession to turn the game. Brayden Point would add a power play goal early in the third to round out the scoring.
The Lightning came out with a similar pace that they had last night against Detroit. A turnover in the offensive zone by Brayden Point leads to the Penguins keeping the puck in the zone and got the Lightning scrambling around a bit. Marcus Petterson let one go and Drew O’Connor tipped it past Elliott.
Drew O’Connor (Marcus Pettersson, Jeff Petry) 1-0 Penguins
The first six shots on net were all credited to Pittsburgh and the sinking feeling of “here we go again” was hovering over the ice. However, Tampa Bay was able to find some space in the neutral zone. That allowed them to get into the Penguins zone and set up their cycle game a bit, something we saw very little of against Detroit.
A bit of a lucky bounce and Anthony Cirelli being Anthony Cirelli led to the tying goal. Cirelli tried to shoot the puck around the back of the Pens net but it hit the official and skittered out to the point where Zach Bogosian gathered it in and ripped it on net. Casey DeSmith made the save, but the rebound hit Cirelli in his shin pad and bounced over the goaltender. He tried to sprawl backwards to smother it before it danced over the goal line, but he was not quick enough.
Anthony Cirelli (Zach Bogosian) 1-1
More solid play from the top line as well as the third line kept the pressure on Pittsburgh. Unfortunately it was disrupted by Pat Maroon getting whistled for roughing. The Pens power play was buzzing, but Cirelli had a step on Rickard Rakell who had to hook him to prevent a solid scoring chance.
Four-on-four hockey with the talent on these two teams? There was little doubt that a goal would be scored. It was Nikita Kucherov doing his thing. He split the defense, shot the puck and somehow backhanded his own rebound home. Not a bad way to record point number 700.
Nikita Kucherov (Brayden Point, Ian Cole) 2-1 Lightning
Tampa Bay ended up with nine shots on goal, not a ton, but considering they had 18 all of last night, it was a good road period for them. Four of those shots came while Maroon, Paul, and Ross Colton were on the ice as that line combined for a 6-2 edge in shot attempts and a 2-1 edge in scoring chances.
Elliott was solid as well, making several nice saves to keep the Bolts in the game early. His best came late as he started to track Jake Guentzel heading behind his net, but was able to stop his momentum and snag a shot from Evgeni Malkin after Guentzel snuck a pass back to the future hall-of-fame.
A solid push to the start of the second period should have been enhanced when the Lightning went on the power play four minutes into the frame. Unfortunately, a lack of urgency led to a shorthanded odd-man rush that Elliott denied with his glove.
He couldn’t stop Malkin who was behind everyone when he exited the box. Malkin slid puck home for his 27th goal in 43 games against the Lightning. It’s the most he’s scored over his career against a non-Metro team.
Evgeni Malkin (Josh Archibald, Brian Dumoulin) 2-2
The goal drained a little energy from the Lightning and they were on their heels for the next few minutes. Elliott continued to be sharp with the glove and his right pad as the Penguins piled up shots. Brayden did have a nice rush into the zone and he tried cutting in on DeSmith, but Dumoulin lifted his stick at the last moment to deny the chance.
A hooking penalty put Stamkos in the box and it didn’t take long for the Pens to capitalize. A dump-in by Pittsburgh looked to be from beyond the red line, but there was no whistle and Elliott played it. A nice passing play from Guentzel to Crosby made it 3-2.
Sidney Crosby (Jake Guentzel, Kris LeTang) Power Play, 3-2 Penguins
Less than a minute later a Pittsburgh shot went wide of the net but bounced back into the crease behind Elliott and Teddy Blueger was first to the loose biscuit and he poked it home to double the lead.
Teddy Blueger (Marcus Pettersson, Jeff Petry) 4-2 Penguins
That was bad. Giving up three more goals before the end of the period was even worse.
Jeff Carter (Kris LeTang) 5-2 Penguins
Jason Zucker (Evgeni Malkin, Danton Heinen) 6-2 Penguins
Brian Dumoulin (Sidney Crosby) 7-2 Penguins
Down by five on the back have of two games in two nights probably made it seem like the third period would last roughly 6 hours. There was little chance the Lightning were coming back, but they have their pride and they’re not going to let anyone run them out of any building.
If nothing else, they were able to convert on the power play, finally.
Brayden Point (Nikita Kucherov, Mikhail Sergachev) Power Play, 7-3 Penguins
That would be the final score as Pittsburgh took their foot off the pedal a bit, but Casey DeSmith made the saves he had to down the stretch.
It’s been a rough stretch of hockey for the Lightning, reminiscent of the beginning of the season. There is time to turn it around, but Tampa Bay has to find a way to fix their mistakes on a consistent basis.