Bolts to finish road trip in Pittsburgh
The Lightning and Penguins face each other for the third of four total meetings on the year. So far this season, the clubs have split the first two matchups, with Tampa Bay earning a 4-1 victory back on Oct. 17 before Pittsburgh avenged the loss last month with a 6-3 win powered by Evgeni Malkin’s eighth career hat trick.
The Big Story:
Both clubs are competing in the second half of respective back-to-back sets. Tampa Bay is coming off a hard-fought 2-1 win over the Sabres that gave them at least a point for the ninth time in 10 games, thus allowing the Lightning to ascend in the standings and remain in the Eastern Conference playoff picture. Pittsburgh, meanwhile, snapped a two-game skid by rebounding with an 8-5 win over Winnipeg on Saturday to keep pace ahead of New Jersey in the hunt for the postseason.
Tampa Bay wraps up a back-to-back set as well as a three-game road trip Sunday night in Pittsburgh, just one night after coming off a 2-1 win at Buffalo. Whereas the Bolts surrendered a third-period lead in the swing’s opener at Madison Square Garden on Thursday, the Lightning didn’t let a similar opportunity get away a second time on Saturday at the First Niagara Center. Steve Downie
and Steven Stamkos
each had goals that gave Tampa Bay a 2-0 lead heading into the final frame, and although Buffalo’s Jason Pominville cut the deficit in half seven minutes into the third, Mathieu Garon
was strong down the stretch as he helped snap the Sabres’ three-game win streak. The win also allowed the Lightning to match the point total of both Buffalo and the New York Islanders to create a three-way tie for 11th place in the Eastern Conference playoff picture.
PENGUINS – Much like the Lightning, Pittsburgh also concludes a back-to-back set after snapping a two-game losing streak with an 8-5 win on Saturday against Winnipeg. Kris Letang scored twice and Evgeni Malkin recorded five points as the Penguins’ top line, which also includes Chris Kunitz and James Neal, combined for three goals and eight assists in the win. The victory helped the Penguins improve to 8-2-1 in their past 11 games, as Pittsburgh also has the luxury of continuing a stretch in which it plays three straight and 10 of the next 14 in its own home arena.
, the NHL’s leading goal scorer, comes in with a goal in four straight games and in five of the past six for the Lightning. Teddy Purcell
is also riding a three-game assist streak for the Lightning. Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin is coming off a five-point night and comes in riding a four-game point streak, while James Neal enters Sunday with three points in his past two outings.
LIGHTNING – Mattias Ohlund
(knee, placed on Injured Reserve), Dana Tyrell
(ACL, out for season, placed on Injured Reserve) and Ryan Malone
(upper body, day-to-day).
PENGUINS – Tyler Kennedy (ankle, out 4-6 weeks), Arron Asham (concussion, placed on Injured Reserve), Simon Despres (lower body, placed on Injured Reserve) and Sidney Crosby (concussion/neck, placed on Injured Reserve).
“It was a big two points for us. Early in the season we weren't able to finish games like this or we weren't able to grind it out and pay the price. We have to find a way sometime.” – Steven Stamkos
, as told to The Tampa Tribune, on his team’s 2-1 win over Buffalo on Saturday night
The Lightning's Ryan Malone
became the first Pittsburgh native to ever play for the Penguins, during the 2003-04 season. Malone had 87 goals and 82 assists in 299 regular-season games with the Penguins, and six goals and 25 assists in 25 playoff games with Pittsburgh. Greg Malone, Ryan's father, who is currently a Lightning scout, played for Pittsburgh from 1976-83. Ryan and Greg Malone are one of two father-son combinations in NHL history to tally hat tricks for the same NHL team, with the other combination being Ken Hodge Sr. and Ken Hodge Jr. with the Boston Bruins.