PITTSBURGH – The Penguins power play ended up being the difference in the Tampa Bay Lightning's 4-3 overtime loss at CONSOL Energy Center Saturday afternoon in Pittsburgh.
The Lightning were summoned to the penalty box six different times in the contest, including a costly minor in overtime, as the Pens converted three of six chances on the man advantage. The last power play goal by James Neal was the game-winner in overtime.
"You can't take six penalties against them," head coach Jon Cooper said. "If you take six penalties, you're going to put yourself in trouble."
Despite the loss the Bolts have now picked up points in eight straight games (5-0-3).
"We need to get points," Cooper said. "It was frustrating how the game ended up, but we got five out of six points on the road and that's a good trip."
While Anders Lindback allowed four Penguins' goals on 29 shots, the Bolts' netminder was the main reason Tampa Bay remained in the game, starting for just the second time in the Lightning's last 17.
"You want your goaltender to give you a chance to win," Cooper said. "He gave us a chance to win."
"A lot of credit needs to be given to Lindback, who played great for us," Matt Carle said.
Lindback proved up to the challenge on the Penguins first power play of the game in the opening period, but allowed a tally on their second man advantage in the middle frame. Evgeni Malkin drew attention to himself by speedily bringing the puck into the Bolts' zone, leaving Sidney Crosby wide open. Malkin sent a pass to Crosby, who scored at 5:29.
Eleven minutes later, Tampa Bay evened things at one with Valtteri Filppula's new career-high 24th goal of the season. Steven Stamkos faked the one-timer and immediately fed the puck to Filppula in the opposite face-off circle to beat Pens' netminder Jeff Zatkoff. With the marker, Filppula extended his point streak to eight games (four goals, eight assists), which is also a career-high. Stamkos, who picked up a helper on the goal, now has eight points in his past six games.
The Lightning and the Pens exchanged goals again in the third to knot the game at two. First Tampa Bay took a 2-1 lead at 8:17 when Stamkos rebounded Radko Gudas' initial shot on net for his 20th goal of the season.
Less than three minutes later, however, Pittsburgh scored their second power-play goal on their fifth man advantage of the game. Lindback was able to make a great save on Matt Niskanen's initial shot, but Malkin cashed in a rebound at 11:07.
In the last frame, the Pens then took a late edge when Malkin scored his second marker of the game off of a Tyler Johnson turnover with 3:17 remaining.
Ondrej Palat came up big two minutes later to force overtime. Palat took a pass from Gudas in the neutral zone and made his away around Pittsburgh defenseman Olli Maatta to beat Zatkoff at 18:38.
"For a young guy, Palat has really grasped the pro game quickly," Cooper said.
Another mistake by Johnson led to a too many men on the ice minor for Tampa Bay 1:11 into the extra frame. The penalty cost the Lightning, as the Penguins finished the contest at 50-percent (3-for-6) on the power play, when Neal scored top shelf just 16 seconds after the Bolts' penalty was assessed.
UP NEXT – Tampa Bay returns home for two games against Atlantic Division rival, the Ottawa Senators, on Monday and Eastern Conference foe, the New York Islanders, Thursday. The Bolts then head north for back-to-back games against the Detroit Red Wings and Buffalo Sabres next weekend.