The Tampa Bay Lightning continue to go through adversity, but the hope is that the team will come out better because of it.
Unfortunately, they’ll have to wait at least one more game to do so.
Steven Stamkos scored twice to pad his NHL goal-scoring lead, Tom Pyatt had a goal, and Martin St. Louis added two assists, but in a 4-3 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins at the CONSOL Energy Center on Monday night.
The defeat was Tampa Bay’s fifth in a row, while Pittsburgh won for a second straight time.
Chris Kunitz scored for Pittsburgh, and Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin each added a goal and an assist.
Kris Letang had two assists as well, while Marc-Andre Fleury made 25 saves.
Monday’s contest marked the second consecutive game in which the Lightning surrendered a one-goal lead before falling in defeat at the end of 60 minutes.
On Saturday, Tampa Bay was up 2-1 in Boston against the Bruins before dropping the contest 3-2.
Two days later in Pittsburgh, it was Crosby who snapped a 2-2 tie at 7:29 of the third, capping a comeback after Malkin, playing in his first game back from injury, pulled Pittsburgh even just less than two minutes earlier.
“We had a good start, had a good forecheck and we were good in our defensive zone,” Pittsburgh head coach Dan Bylsma said. “We might have got away from that for just a bit in that second period, but our play early on goes a long way.”
Kunitz made it 1-0 just 4:13 into the game with a shot that beat Mathieu Garon off a pass from Crosby.
Garon was fantastic through just more than a period, but appeared to tweak something early on in the middle frame that forced an early exit from the contest.
Instead, Lindback entered and seemed to pick up right where Garon left off, including making a terrific save on Malkin late in the second period.
Garon turned aside 12 of 13 shots on the night, while Lindback made 16 saves in relief.
Stamkos tied it at 1-1 after finishing off a nice play with Victor Hedman to pull Tampa Bay even at 2:39 of the middle frame.
Pyatt gave the Lightning their first lead of the contest later on, at 11:59, when Nate Thompson’s shot went off Pyatt’s face before eluding Fleury and finding the back of the net for a 2-1 advantage.
“I thought we were very good on the forecheck tonight,” Lightning assistant coach Martin Raymond said. “Got to give the guys credit.”
That’s where things stood going into the third, until Pittsburgh scored three times unanswered to go back in front.
A pair of goals in a span of just 1:51 helped the home team re-claim its lead in the final stanza, as Malkin and Crosby each scored early on to erase the one-goal deficit.
Malkin first took advantage of a turnover inside the Lightning blue line at the expense of Eric Brewer. Malkin skated in with the puck before making a nifty move through the crease and beating Lindback to pull Pittsburgh even at 2-2.
Crosby then put the Penguins up 3-2 at 7:29 before James Neal doubled the Penguins advantage with just 52 seconds left to play in regulation after depositing one into an empty net with the Lightning’s extra attacker on.
Stamkos’ second of the night would bring the Lightning to within one at 4-3, but the eight seconds remaining on the clock at the time of the goal were hardly enough to complete a comeback for Tampa Bay.
“We talked about playing a solid defensive game and playing well in our own zone,” Penguins forward Pascal Dupuis said. “I thought we did that tonight.”