Conor Sheary returns to the lineup, bumping Carter Rowney back to healthy scratch territory. Mark Streit makes his Penguins debut, bumping Derrick Pouliot to the press box.
Not too much going on early. Ian Cole takes a penalty but a nice kill by Pittsburgh that sees Tom Kuhnhackl (2) get more shots on goal than the Lightning power play (1).
Not too much more going on. Shots tied at 9 a piece. Goals stuck at 0.
Tampa gets on the board first, taking advantage of a miscommunication by a new Penguins defensive pair. The Lightning dump the puck in behind Chad Ruhwedel into the corner and he turns to recover it. Cole abandons his position to support and goes into the corner as well. The problem comes when Tampa wins the puck and quickly centers it, leaving 2 Lightning players in front of the net, and both Penguins defensemen in the corner. (Nick Bonino toepicks in the other corner as well to give even more open space and time). Not great. Adam Erne gets his first career NHL goal after a second pass from Vladislav Namestnikov.
Who the heck is Adam Ernie?— Tracer (@OftenBlunders) March 4, 2017
Adam Erne 1 (Assists: Vladislav Namestnikov 15, Cedric Paquette 6)
Now you know! pic.twitter.com/Q9x7xtMHB1
The lead doesn't last long, the Pens 4th line draws a penalty and then the big guns come through. Phil Kessel rifles a beautiful cross-ice pass for Evgeni Malkin to drop to a knee and one-time it past Peter Budaj. 1-1.
Evgeni Malkin 27 (power-play) (Assists: Phil Kessel 36, Justin Schultz 31) pic.twitter.com/8qQ9mX8bza— Tracer (@OftenBlunders) March 4, 2017
The Pens keep pouring it on and Kessel feeds Malkin again for another goal, this time at even strength. 2-1 Pittsburgh.
Malkin’s last 15 games against the Lightning produced 17 goals and 15 assists... Yeah, NBD. pic.twitter.com/6ZlES8WTX9— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) March 4, 2017
That 2nd period starting to look a lot like the 2016 playoff series between these 2 teams. Scoring chances were 11-3, Pittsburgh. Shots 15-7. Goals 2-1. If Peter Budaj hasn't made a bunch of great saves, this isn't even a competitive game any longer.
On the carryover time from a late 2nd period penalty, Tampa ties it. Jonathan Drouin feathers a pass that just barely avoids the skate and stick of Matt Cullen to make it to the stick of the ever-dangerous Nikita Kucherov. Kucherov blasts a shot in for his 28th goal of the season and ties the game at 2.
Nikita Kucherov 28 (power-play) (Assists: Jonathan Drouin 23, Victor Hedman 42)— Tracer (@OftenBlunders) March 4, 2017
Pittsburgh takes the lead, Streit strikes in his first game! On a delayed penalty it looks like Malkin steps on the puck and falls but luckily it goes to Sidney Crosby. With all the Lightning players looking in that way, Crosby makes a great pass to the middle for Streit who's all alone in the middle and nicely tucks the puck under Budaj's pads.
That was quick:— Tracer (@OftenBlunders) March 4, 2017
Mark Streit 6 (Assists: Sidney Crosby 34, Evgeni Malkin 37) pic.twitter.com/KMvwNqnMEB
The Pens then hit 2 posts shortly after. Just can't seem to put Tampa away...Until later in the period, Pittsburgh gets a power play and puts Streit in for Patric Hornqvist to get a common 3F/2D personnel grouping late in a one goal game. Schultz scores on a Crosby pass to make it 4-2.
Please excuse us while we catch up on goal GIFs... (We love when that happens). pic.twitter.com/zvAewbJYmU— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) March 4, 2017
Tom Kuhnhackl tacks on an empty netter to finish things up as a 5-2 win.
- First impressions are fun. Early in his very first shift, Streit made a nice, crisp, accurate long outlet pass up to Crosby, that resulted in a clean zone entry and a couple of shots. Later in the period he confidently stepped up in the offensive zone and put a puck on net that was probably the Penguins best scoring chance of the opening period. And, yeah what ended up as the GWG too later in the 3rd period. That's the way to go.
- A little deep but after trading centers Valteri Filpulla and Brian Boyle at the deadline, Tampa struggled in the faceoff circle going on the night, winning just 42% of the draws against a Pens team that usually isn't all that good this year on faceoffs. Might not stand out too big, but was something we noticed.
- The Root Sports camera caught the trainer wrapping Malkin's left wrist on the bench after his goal. On the next shift (an extended o-zone one that saw Geno drive play with passes and dekes) he was on the ice shaking his left hand. Maybe nothing, but maybe something to keep an eye on. That wrist sure looked good when he was on the ice though for a 3 point night.
- 2 great passes from Kessel for the assist, he nearly had a 3rd assist as well with another cross-ice pass to Justin Schultz. Schultz had an open net to work with but appeared to push the one-time shot back into the goalie. Great chance.
- Through 2 periods Ron Hainsey had played a team high 17:14, in just his 4th game on the team. Streit (again, in his 1st game with the team) was 2nd with 14:08. They ended with 25:07 and 19:31 respectively. Both played well throughout the game. Goes to show how badly the depth on this team has been tested and they needed the veteran additions at the deadline.
- Brian Dumoulin (fresh off a broken jaw in January) got cracked along the back wall and fell, grabbing his head. The trainers inspected him but allowed him to take another shift. After that shift he would leave the game, presumably for the "safe room" and concussion protocol. Dumo would return to finish the game with seemingly no issues, and hopefully won't feel anything bad going forward.
- Not to be outdone, Ian Cole (the lone Penguin defenseman to play every game to this point in the season), got taken down awkwardly and had his legs caught under him when falling. He left right for the room as well but quickly returned to the bench.
- Never good when a 4th liner takes a minor penalty. Kuhnhackl took 2 tonight. Considering he's a big part of the normal PK rotation (and sitting in the box screws up said rotation) it will be interesting to see if the coaches are aggravated enough by the transgressions to sit him next game.
- An angle I personally find interesting: 2 days ago Tampa decided to trade Streit to Pittsburgh for a very modest return of a 4th round pick. And TB would retain half of his salary to make the money work. Tampa entered the night 4 points out of the last playoff spot, and at 7-1-2 in the last 10 making a hard charge to backdoor into the playoffs, with games dwindling and every game counting. And Streit scores a go-ahead 3rd period goal on them to perhaps cost them 1 (if not 2) points in the standings. All for a draft pick that most likely won't amount to an NHL player. Now, there's no way they could have realistically foreseen a vet defenseman scoring a GWG against them, but boy it sure hurts now, huh?
Nice game to break a 2 game losing streak, the Penguins get Buffalo at home on Sunday at the unusual start time of 5 PM. See you then.