Lightning lose to Pittsburgh, 6-4
Tuesday, 06.19.2012 / 1:57 AMDetermined Third Period Comeback Falls Short
The squad the Lightning put on the ice tonight might have been mostly young and inexperienced, but one thing they proved is that there is no quit in them.
The Bolts demonstrated that tonight when they charged back from a 4-0 deficet in period three only to come up short and lose to Pittsburgh Penguins, 6-4.
A sleepy first period in which neither team showed much interest, generating a combined 11 shots on net, gave way to an action-packed game that featured goals (7 in the last period alone), controversy and, for Tampa Bay, another season-ending injury.
The scoring began in period two, and once it began, it all went Pittsburgh’s way for a while. Former Lightning winger Ruslan Fedotenko opened the scoring at the 5:00 mark as he cruised down the slot and turned a centering pass into his 16th goal of the season.
Once the scoring gate was opened, Sidney Crosby jumped through and collected two goals in 64 seconds to widen the Pittsburgh advantage to 3-0. Crosby’s first, at 10:08, came while Pittsburgh skated with a 5-on-3 advantage, with both Steven Stamkos
and Lukas Krajicek in the penalty box for Tampa Bay. Moment’s earlier, Lightning netminder Karri Ramo dove across the goal crease and robbed Crosby, but when he next picked up a rebound stationed just to Ramo’s left, the Pittsburgh forward didn’t miss.
Crosby’s second power play goal finished off the back half of the Pittsburgh two-man advantage. After collecting a pass, Crosby skated in alone on Ramo and wristed the puck past him. Both goals were assisted by Chris Kunitz and Evgeni Malkin.
Only 1:08 into the final period, Pittsburgh widened their lead to 4-0 when Matt Cooke scored from in front of the Lightning net.
But Tampa Bay showed it’s determination as they battled back into the game, beginning at 4:31 when Jeff Halpern netted his first short-handed goal of the season and sixth overall. Paul Szczechura
set up the goal as he challenged Pittsburgh goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury for a loose puck behind the Penguin net and centered the puck to Halpern in the slot.
Martin St. Louis
brought the Bolts half-way back at 8:59 as he and Steven Stamkos
worked the give-and-go to perfection, enabling St. Louis to finish with the puck and a virtually empty net in front of him. The goal was number 30 on the season for St. Louis, Tampa Bay’s leading point and goal scorer. Lukas Krajicek also received credit for an assist.
Just 44 seconds later, Szczechura cut the Pittsburgh lead to only one score as he picked up the puck in the slot and beat Fleury for an unassisted goal, his fourth of the season.
By that point, the momentum had swung in the Lightning’s favor and they were certainly out skating and out-shooting the Penguins; but whatever impetus that Tampa Bay had in it’s favor would soon disappear in a swirl of controversy.
When Fedotenko stole the puck at the Pittsburgh blueline and broke in alone on Ramo, his scoring attempt was stopped, but his momentum carried him into the Lightning goaltender and, in the collision, Ramo was swung around and moved out of position. Peter Sykora followed Fedotenko to the crease, secured the loose puck and flipped it into the now-vacant net. Although Ramo protested vehemently that he was interfered with, the goal, scored at 11:43, was allowed to stand.
The Lightning battled back once more, with Ramo on the bench in favor of the extra attacker. Halpern scored his second goal of the period when he followed up on Martins Karsums
shot and put the rebound past Fleury from the left of the crease. Brandon Bochenski also got an assist. That score pulled Tampa Bay back to within one goal with only 39 seconds remaining to be played.
And that would be as close as the Lightning would come, as Jordan Staal would finish off the scoring for Pittsburgh just 28 seconds later when he slid the puck into the empty net to bring the final score to 6-4.
In the course of the game, the Lightning, who have seen way more than their fair share of injuries this season, were victimized again as forward Ryan Malone
broke his hand and is done for the remainder of the season.
In the final period, Tampa Bay outshot the Penguins 21 to 8, to finish with a total of 37 shots on net to 31 for the visitors.
And although the controversial goal by Sykora late in the game proved to be the winning tally, there was at least one other factor contributing to the Lightning loss- the power play. Tampa Bay went 0 for 7 on the power play tonight, including 2:58 with a two-man advantage.
“I don’t know what the stats are,” Lightning interim head coach Rick Tocchet said, “but when you don’t score on a 5-on-3, I bet you lose 85% of the time”
He might be right. This was certainly one of those times.