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Penguins vs. Lightning Recap: Classic two-headed monster night from Sid and Geno

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The Penguins beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-3. Pittsburgh mounts a two goal comeback and get 2 goals from Sidney Crosby and 2 goals from Evgeni Malkin. Kris Letang and Phil Kessel each chip in with 3 assists.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

1st period

Sidney Crosby is just unreal. The effort, drive, determination and skill to score like this is incredible for his 19th goal in his 22nd game.

About the weirdest fight combination you could pick would be Trevor Daley and Nikita Kucherov but they get heated and drop the gloves and don't have a bad little scrap.

Hearts stop as Crosby gets boarded head-first by the thoroughly anonymous 3rd pair defenseman Luke Witkowski . Just terrible. Crosby leaves the bench but thank God comes back for the start of the second period. Hopefully no lingering issues from this in the upcoming days.

Jonathan Drouin scores from distance with a lot of traffic in front. Malkin was in the box (for a double-minor stick infraction in the o-zone, no less) to tie the game.

Shots 15-8 Pittsburgh after one, but the score is tied and the Crosby absence made this feel really bad at this point.

2nd period

Crosby returns for the second period, big time relief that he seemingly avoids an obvious head injury.

However, early in the 2nd Filpulla scores on a 2-on-1, does a great job looking off the pass and then quickly snapping a shot far side on Matt Murray. They opportunistically caught Justin Schultz as the 1 in a 2-on-1, which isn't usually a good thing, but so it goes.

Ian Cole hasn't had many bad moments this season but this one sure was. It was almost like he didn't know where Drouin was on the ice, and once he realized and the puck just hops past his stick, zoom, Drouin was gone. Tampa suddenly up 3-1 and this doesn't look good

The Pens get one back though with Malkin scoring Pittsburgh's first power play goal since the 6th grade picnic when he gets a nice pass from Phil Kessel and quickly snaps a shot past Andrei Vasilevskiy to make it 3-2.

Shots end up a pretty commanding 26-14 after 2, but the Pens find themselves behind 3-2.

3rd period

Early in the 3rd the Pens get a game-tying goal from who else but Crosby for his league-leading 20th of the season, and again on the power play. Almost identical goal from the Malkin one, with Kessel from the corner feeding the star center (Sid this time) right out in front for a one-time shot. Hey, take it if they'll give it.

Then Malkin scores from the right side on another power play. Tampa's down a man but they just give Geno way too much time and space to line up the shot for what ends up as the game winner.

Crazy sequence, a Tampa player slips a puck 5-hole through Murray but before trickling in Justin Schultz is johnny on the spot to clear it from danger. Unfortunately his desperation clear puts it right to the stick of a Tampa player who fires and hits the cross-bar. Murray is out of sorts and Valtteri Filppula has a wide open net with the rebound and somehow shoots the puck right into Murray. Wow.

Ian Cole and Cedric Paquette get in a fight.

That's about it, the game ends and Pittsburgh comes out on top tonight.


Some Thoughts

  • The Penguins had 2 fights all season coming into the night (both of them, unsurprisingly involving Tom Sestito as the combatant) and doubled that with 2 fights in a single game tonight. Odd how it's become odd these days that post-whistle scrums escalating into fist fights in the NHL.
  • Also a sign of the times when it comes to fighting (for better or worse, depending on your perspective) no one really even tried to get in Witkowski's face to challenge or strongly suggest he fight after the Crosby hit. Sure, Sid came back, but even 5 years ago if a player (especially a pretty unknown one) boards and injured a star, he would have to fight. Not any more.
  • 3 assists for Phil Kessel and Kris Letang tonight. Kessel especially was threading some beautiful passes that didn't even end up as goals. The Pens want Phil to shoot more but his playmaking has been on point lately, as the league leader board will point out.
  • Malkin too was on another level tonight. It's not unusual for him to look dominant in Tampa, for some reason he always seems to play very well and score a ton of points in that building, and tonight was no exception.
  • Conor Sheary didn't get an assist on the opening goal of the night, but he made a terrific play (on no less than excellent defenseman Viktor Hedman) to start the sequence that led to the goal, and wouldn't have happened without him. Sheary was absent of the scoresheet but still mighty impressive.
  • Similarly, Daley didn't get a point on Crosby's game-tying goal but his holding of the blueline from a clearing attempt is the only reason that next sequence happened. And credit Mike Sullivan for shuffling up the power play units with the change of putting 2 defensemen out there more often. That decision paid off in spades.
  • 3 power play goals on the night. Pittsburgh PP is often feast or famine and tonight was obviously the best of times.
  • Gotta tip your cap to the kind of speed and skill a guy like Drouin has, but look at the highlight and the Pens 3rd pair got exposed there against a talented guy. Probably shows why Cole+Schultz need to stay in the roles they're in and not be asked to defend often against top offensive players around the league.
  • This game was reminiscent of the playoff series. Pittsburgh controls possession and heavily outshoots Tampa, but Vasilevskiy holds them in the game, along with Jonathan Drouin playing outstanding. Steven Stamkos is out injured and the Pens win 4-3. If only Bryan Rust had scored a goal tonight it would be pretty much the same as the Eastern Conference Finals.
  • 6, count 'em 6! 3rd period comebacks for the Pens. Down 2 goals, on the road with 22 minutes left a regulation win seemed miles away tonight, but Pittsburgh found a way.

2 goals for Sid and 2 goals for Geno almost always leads to good things, and it did tonight. Pens go 2 for 2 on their quick Florida tour and now get to go back home to meet Arizona on Monday night.