PITTSBURGH, Pa. – Vincent Lecavalier scored his 40th goal of the season and Martin St. Louis appeared in his 600th career game, but a two-point night by Evgeni Malkin lifted the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday night. As the Tampa Bay Lightning continued a three-game road trip, they dropped a 4-2 decision to the Penguins.
Filip Kuba posted one goal and one assist and Jussi Jokinen added two helpers as the Lightning dropped their first game at Pittsburgh in four seasons.
Seconds into the contest St. Louis saw a slapshot from the right point blocked by a Marc-Andre Fleury pad save. Mike Smith responded for Tampa Bay, stopping a wrist shot by Petr Sykora from the right faceoff dot.
Midway through the period the Lightning pressured the Penguins when Craig MacDonald left the puck behind the net for Mathieu Darche. Making a centering pass as he was pulled down, Darche fed Michel Ouellet for a shot from the top of the crease.
Fleury covered the attempt before denying a pair of shots on the ensuing power play. After holding of a slapshot by Dan Boyle, Fleury made a glove save through traffic on a wrist shot by Andreas Karlsson from the top of the right circle.
With less than six minutes remaining in the period Jarkko Ruutu scored his fourth goal of the season to give the Penguins the early lead.
Although Smith denied a shot by Brooks Orpik from the right point, the rebound from the pad save bounced to the goal mouth. As Smith stretched out to make the save attempt, Ruutu put the puck into the left side of the net.
Tampa Bay looked to tie the game minutes later when Lecavalier and Shane O’Brien tried to connect on a shorthanded opportunity. After Lecavalier slapped a shot from the point, O’Brien barreled down the middle of the ice to put the rebound shot on goal. Fleury stopped both shots with pad saves.
Despite being blocked on the attempt, Lecavalier connected less than five minutes into the second period to tie the game at one.
As the Lightning skated on the power play, Kuba fired an initial shot from the left circle that was blocked by Orpik. Collecting the rebound at the left side of the net, St. Louis passed the puck to Lecavalier through the goal mouth. As Fleury sprawled across his crease, Lecavalier put a one-timed shot into the top of the net.
With the score, Lecavalier reached 40 goals for the second consecutive season. Lecavalier has scored goals in five of his previous six games, totally eight goals, including a hat trick.
Responding to the goal, Malkin regained the Pittsburgh lead minutes later after connecting on a backhanded shot. Putting a pair of shots on goal from below the left faceoff circle, Malkin was denied when Kuba blocked the initial attempt. Smith kicked up his right leg as he slid to the side of his crease, but Malkin popped the second shot into the top of the net.
In the second half of the period, Smith showcased some of his stick handling skills when he cleared the puck with a pass to St. Louis. As he cut across the Lightning blue line, St. Louis couldn’t get the bouncing puck to settle. Orpik broke up the play, keeping St. Louis from skating towards the net on a breakaway.
With the Penguins taking a 2-1 lead into the final period, the clubs combined to score on the first three shots of the third. Pittsburgh posted a pair of goals in 16 seconds before Kuba added his fourth goal of the season to cut the lead in half.
35 seconds into the frame, Staal scored his 12th goal of the season to give Pittsburgh a two-goal lead. Smith tried to poke the puck away as Pascal Dupuis attempted to fire a shot in front of the net, but Staal shot the rebound to the right blocker side.
On the following shift, Sykora converted a pass by Malkin, putting the puck to the five hole from the slot.
Only one minute after the Sykora goal, Kuba connected for the second Tampa Bay power play goal in the contest. As Kuba moved up into the play Jokinen fed a pass through the bottom of the slot. Snapping a wrist shot from the left faceoff circle, Kuba put the puck behind Fleury as the Penguins goalie was unable to get across his crease.
With an assist on the goal, St. Louis extended his point streak to six games. During the streak the Lightning winger has recorded three goals and eight points.
Minutes after the score, the Penguins tested Smith with a pair of odd-man rushes. Making a pass across the zone, Dupuis found Staal alone at the left side of the slot. Staal fired off a quick shot, but Smith stretched across the crease to smother the attempt.
Marian Hossa later made a circle-to-circle pass to find Maxime Talbot at the right wing. Talbot one-timed the shot, but Smith slid across the goal line to make a pad save.
With one minute remaining in the game the Lightning put a handful of shots against Fleury, but were unable to beat the Penguins goalie to force the comeback. Fleury held off an O’Brien shot from the point before covering a backhanded rebound attempt by St. Louis at the right of the net.
As the game wound down, Kuba was blocked on a slap shot before Darche was held off while looking for the rebound.
Smith posted the decision, making 19 saves as the Penguins out-shot the Lightning, 23-21. Kuba led all Tampa Bay skaters with five shots in the contest.
The Lightning converted two of five man-advantage opportunities while killing off two Penguins power plays.
The clubs split their season series with two wins each. The game marked the first loss for Tampa Bay in their previous eight meetings at Pittsburgh.
Concluding their three-game road trip, the Lightning will stop in Sunrise, Florida before returning to the St. Pete Times Forum for a four-game homestand. Tampa Bay meets Florida on Saturday, March 22 (7:00p.m., Sun Sports, 620 WDAE) for the seventh of eight meetings this season.
1 - 0 PIT
1 - 1 Tie
2 - 1 PIT
3 - 1 PIT
4 - 1 PIT
Martin St. Louis