Lightning Mistakes Costly in Loss to Penguins

by | Dec 3, 2023

Lightning Mistakes Costly in Loss to Penguins

by | Dec 3, 2023

TAMPA – Tampa Bay led Pittsburgh 2-0 after one period Thursday night, but the inability to carry over one of the most solid periods of the season cost the Lightning as the Penguins used two goals in the second and third periods to eclipse the Lightning 4-2.

The exclamation point was placed beside ‘tough loss’ for the Lightning when Pittsburgh goalie Tristan Jarry stopped a puck and sent it the length of the ice at 1:08 for an empty-net goal to wrap up the win.

Lightning center Steven Stamkos mentioned the aggressiveness of controlling the Penguins’ skating and the consistency in back-checking as keys for Tampa Bay in the first period where the Bolts outshot Pittsburgh, 17-5 over the first 20 minutes.

“It’s the same story the last couple of games,” Stamkos said. “We are playing some of the better hockey in spurts and with the mistakes we are making it tough.”

Jarry gave up a redirect on his right by Stamkos at 9:06 as Victor Hedman shot the puck from behind the left circle. It was Stamkos’ tenth goal of the season and his fifth goal in his last seven games. Then, at 12:33, Tampa Bay took a 2-0 lead when Tanner Jeannot scored a power-play goal on a stick back of a snapshot by Mikhail Sergachev.

Pittsburgh gained control of the game when Sydney Crosby took a pass after an interception from Jack Guentzel. Crosby skated up the ice and went high on Vasilesky with his scoring shot to cut the Lightning advantage to 2-1 at 8:53 in the second period.

Then at 19:24, Reilly Smith took an errant puck up the right side of the ice and passed to Evgeni Malkin, who was inside the right circle. Malkin drew Vasilevskiy to the left side of the crease and pushed the puck to Drew O’Connor, who scored his second goal of the season to tie the game at 2-2.

“A couple of plays that led to chances for really good players and then they make you pay and it’s a whole different feel of the game,” said Stamkos. “They feel some momentum. It’s another game where we get 40 shots and we don’t have any points to show for it.”

Finally, Jeff Carter and Matt Nieto were part of the third odd-man rush as Carter scored his first goal of the season for the 3-2 lead at 2:49 in the third.

Vasilevskiy was in goal for the third time in the last four outings after a back injury sidelined him for the first 22 games. He made his presence felt as he used his knee pads to block two shots in the first four minutes of the contest.

“We have the best goalie in the league on our team, but you cant give Sydney Crosby a breakaway, can’t give Malkin an untracked 2-on-1 and then you have another 3-on-2,” Cooper explained. “I think those were the only three odd-man rushes they had all night and they scored on all three of them, so there’s no recipe for that.”

Tampa Bay outshot Pittsburgh 17-5 in each of the first and third periods. The Penguins had a 19-7 shot advantage in the second period which helped Pittsburgh take command.

“We made the mistake of over-passing and trying too hard and for that reason, we lost this game,” said Cooper.  “At this point, it has to be decision-making and see how we do in Game 25.”

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