Lightning Iced By Penguins
Prospal Scores in 3-1 Loss
The Tampa Bay Lightning dropped a 3-1 decision to the Pittsburgh Penguins in a hard fought physical game in front of 19,908 in attendance at the St. Pete Times Forum tonight.
Period one was as even as 20 minutes of hockey could be except that Pittsburgh managed two goals to only one for the Lightning. The first period was a game of bounces, and Pittsburgh had them going their way while Tampa Bay had them pop over their sticks.
The Penguins opened the scoring at 7:38 when forward Chris Kunitz connected on a rebound that flew over Tampa Bay netminder Karri Ramo’s right pad.
After almost five minutes of end-to-end hockey, Tampa Bay tied the score at 12:23 of the stanza. Ryan Malone
, backchecking, intercepted a centering pass in the Tampa Bay defensive zone and launched an outlet pass to Vincent Lecavalier
that began a 2-on-1 attack the other way. Lecavalier sent a cross-ice pass to Vaclav Prospal and Prospal tapped the puck home, past Pittsburgh netminder Marc-Andre Fleury, for his 17th goal of the season.
The tie was broken by the Penguins just over four minutes later when Kunitz scored his second goal of the game at 16:44. With Prospal in the penalty box for unsportsmanlike conduct, Kunitz found himself alone in front of Ramo and knocked home a rebound. The power play goal was number 19 for Kunitz on the season.
Pittsburgh added some insurance in the second period when forwards Matt Cooke and Pascal Dupuis worked a give-and-go to perfection, with Cooke delivering the finisher at 12:26.
Much of the second period was played in the Lightning end but Tampa Bay did manage several good scoring attempts, most notably late in the period when Ryan Malone
took a pass from St. Louis and stickhandled down the slot. Fleury was able to smother his shot, one of 11 saves he made in the second period.
The Lightning put together an aggressive third period, collecting several great scoring opportunities, but they were unable to find the handle and the back of the Penguin net.
shot the puck over the top of an open net from the face-off circle to Fleury’s left, and moments later Lecavalier missed the net from Fleury’s right.
“I actually thought we played well, the third period was a good one for us,” interim coach Rick Tocchet said. “Still, Pittsburgh found a way…a couple of goals early and it might have been a different game.”
Marc-Andre Fleury, the beneficiary of Tampa bay’s inability to finish their opportunities, completed his evening’s work with 32 saves while Karri Ramo ended with 30 stops. Both teams had 33 shots on goal, with Lecavalier collecting six shots to lead both teams in that department.
“It’s tough,” Lightning center Ryan Craig said. “It’s a grind and we have to find a way to get results. It’s no fun losing.”
In one of the few times this season, Tampa Bay was outhit by the Penguins, 23-22, but Evengy Artyukhin led all skaters with five recorded hits.
After tonight’s battle, coming on the heels of a cross country flight on Sunday night, Tampa Bay will get two days to rest and re-energize before continuing the current homestand with games against St. Louis on Friday and Carolina on Saturday.
|Three star selections