The Tampa Bay Lightning’s recent tough stretch away from home is having no effect on Steven Stamkos. In fact, the Lightning’s superstar center is becoming a road warrior.
The NHL’s leading scorer notched his 15th goal of the season Friday night with his league-best seventh power-play tally, albeit in a 5-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Consol Energy Center.
Stamkos, who has collected seven goals and 11 points in his last seven contests on the road, cut an early 2-0 deficit in half at 5:30 of the third when he sent a slap shot into the top corner of the net past Penguins net minder Marc-Andre Fleury. Stamkos is the NHL’s leader in road points this season with 14.
Tampa Bay, who returns home on Sunday to face Minnesota, dropped its fourth straight on the road and has gained just one point in its last five away from home.
Pascal Dupuis, Alex Goligoski and Maxime Talbot each scored for Pittsburgh, 8-8-1 and five points behind the division-leading Flyers. Sidney Crosby and Deryk Engelland also had goals, and Fleury made 15 saves.
“We had a few good chances, but Fleury made some great saves out there,” Lightning forward Dominic Moore said.
The Penguins came into the game with just one win in their last four and in the midst of a two-game skid at home. They won for just the third time in eight tries in the team’s brand new arena.
Dupuis opened scoring at 8:01 after tipping in a slap shot from Kris Letang off the high slot. Goligoski made it 2-0 with a wrist shot into a wide open net just 27 seconds later.
Despite only recording 16 shots on goal, a season-low, Tampa Bay did make the most of the chances it had, contesting the Pittsburgh goaltender with shots, but Fleury made some strong saves.
First, he stopped Martin St. Louis as he was in alone during the second period, then got his left leg out to stop Adam Hall on a rebound while Tampa Bay was on a 5-on-3 power play with about 13 minutes to play.
“We had some chances, we just couldn’t find a way to put the puck in the net,” defenseman Mattias Ohlund said.
Stamkos finally did, however, with his patented one-timer from the left circle, halving Pittsburgh’s lead on the power play to open the final period.
Pittsburgh, though, desperate for a win after losing six of its last eight, dug deep and responded with three goals in the final period to put the game away.
Talbot regained the two-goal lead when he sent an uncontested wrist shot over Smith’s shoulder with eight minutes in regulation, and Crosby cashed in his 11th of the season at 16:44.
Engelland ended the scoring with his second of the night with just over a minute to play.
“We put a lot of stress on them, but they just have some really highly-skilled guys,” Ohlund added.
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