Game 44: Pittsburgh Penguins at Tampa Bay Lightning

The Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 6-3 at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on Sunday afternoon.

The Lightning woke up this morning, presumably early due to an unusual 1 p.m. Sunday start time, to find themselves in last place in the Eastern Conference as a result of a six-game losing streak (0-5-1). It's safe to say things are becoming desperate at 401 Channelside Drive. And as desperation sets in, frustration sometimes boils over. Right, coach?

"I don't want to focus on frustration. To me, it's all about today...I gotta get ready for the next game and assess the things we can do better." - Lightning head coach Guy BoucherWell, if it's not frustration, what is it? Anyone?

"It's the same mistakes, the same story...I don't know what to say. We spot every team two goals and think we can come back. We're not doing the little things right to have success and now we're trying to tread water." - forward Ryan Malone

Yet another slow start dictated yet another comeback at the Forum. Steven Stamkos was called for slashing at the :46 mark and the Lightning came within three seconds of successfully killing off that penalty. But James Neal scored on an odd-angle shot that dribbled past starting netminder Mathieu Garon at 2:43. Paul Martin and Evgeni Malkin added assists.

Pierre-Cedric Labrie introduced himself to the Tampa Bay Times Forum crowd by fighting Deryk Engelland at 13:36.

Richard Park extended thePittsburgh lead to 2-0 at 10:38, which was what the scoreboard read when the period ended.

That's also what the scoreboard read when the second period ended.

At 12:42, it looked like Ryan Malone had the Lightning on the board when he deflected a shot past Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury but Malone's stick was clearly above the crossbar when he made contact.

It didn't stay that way for long in the third. The Penguins made it 3-0 when Neal scored at :34, a powerplay goal resulting from a penalty on Steve Downie late in the second. Malkin and Steve Sullivan offered helpers.

Matt Gilroy answered at 2:00, his first goal of the season, with assists from Stamkos and Martin St. Louis, to keep the Lightning's hopes afloat.

About three minutes later, Malone cashed in on a rare powerplay goal at 4:53. Rare, not only because the Lightning's special teams have been less than special lately but also because it was the first...and only...minor penalty called on Pittsburgh in the game.

The Bolts evened it up at 6:50 when Teddy Purcell beat Fleury with a wrist shot thanks to assists by Vincent Lecavalier and Bruno Gervais.

The momentum generated by the comeback was short-lived as Malkin gave Pittsburgh back the lead, unassisted at 7:38

He doubled the lead to 5-3 at 9:27 when he scored on a breakaway on an assist from Brooks Orpik.

Things came to a boil with an exchange of roughing calls that resulted from Lecavalier taking offense to Malkin targeting his knees.

"He's the captain and he wants to show that we're not going to take everything and just be little poodles and wait for things to happen, so for me there's aboslutely no blame on his part there. He's emotional, he's trying to make this team win and that was his way of showing that we're not going to take it. So I don't blame him at all." - Boucher

Lecavalier, Neal and Pavel Kubina all picked up 10 minute misconduct penalties in the ensuing melee.

Malkin sealed the outcome, earning the hat trick with an empty netter at 19:04.

So what do the Lightning do now to relieve this frustration situation?

"Desperation has to be there. It has to be like playoffs right from the drop of the puck and we need to win our battles one-on-one. Coach can draw up a system and we try to execute it as best we can, but until we have some more pride or whatever it may be, we need to obviously battle harder." - Malone"I'm not quitiing. If there's guys that are down and they have trouble keeping going, it certainly isn't going to be the captain of the ship, because I'm going to get up tomorrow morning and work." - Boucher

The Lightning will be in action again on Tuesday night when they'll host the Boston Bruins.

Game notes:

  • This is the Lightning's longest losing streak since closing out the 2008-09 season at 0-7-2
  • Pittsburgh broke a four-game losing streak against Tampa Bay and erased an 0-for-24 streak on the powerplay during those games in the process.
  • Lightning forward Dana Tyrell left the game with a lower body injury and will be evaluated Monday.
  • The Lightning honored Matthew Baar as a Lightning Community Hero during the first period of today’s game against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Baar, who received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, will divide the money among his charities of choice, All Children’s Hospital and Children’s Dream Fund. Just 13 years old, Baar established the "Change For Change" campaign, in which he collects loose coins to benefit the Infusion Center at All Children’s Hospital, to honor his brother, Joey, whose battle with leukemia requires frequent trips to the medical facility for treatment. After observing that several toys and games inside the center were in need of replacement, Baar set out to immediately begin raising the funds through his initiative, and in just a few months, exceeded his goal of totaling more than $2,500. The children receiving infusions at All Children's Hospital are a community amongst themselves. Drug infusions received at the center treat children undergoing procedures such as bone marrow transplants, heart transplants, and chemotherapy. Patients receiving infusions typically spend four to five hours in one of 12 bays at the center, while many utilize the various toys and games to help distract them from the duration and the discomfort of their treatments. Though Baar was motivated to begin his "Change for Change" campaign out of a sense of fairness, he has been an advocate for serving others through most of his life. The most recent turn of the calendar marks Baar’s third year raising money on behalf of his brother, whose special needs have been present since birth. Though Joey’s most recent struggle has been with cancer, he was born with Down’s syndrome and underwent open-heart surgery at the age of six months. When Joey was granted his Children’s Dream Fund wish to spend a week at a theme park, Barr felt it was only fair to provide the same wish to another boy in turn. In 2010, he designed a bowling game to be played at a local festival in Bradenton, and one dollar at a time, raised enough money necessary to send a boy from the area on his own "dream." Again this year, he is working to exceed last year’s total to fulfill another child’s dream by using the same bowling game during the festival. Baar possesses a true sense of altruism that many individuals at his age are too young to understand, and which many adults have lost sight of. He believes that thinking of someone other than himself and showing other children that they have a role and responsibility to others in their community is one of the most important lessons for any young person to learn. Through all his endeavors, Baar has raised over $8,000, which has been used to support All Children’s Hospital and Children’s Dream Fund on behalf of both his brother and many others in need throughout the community.