February 22, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin (71) reacts on the ice against the Florida Panthers during the first period at the CONSOL Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Evgeni Malkin Returns In Big Game For Penguins

Evgeni Malkin returned to the lineup for the Pittsburgh Penguins when they took on the Tampa Bay Lightning Monday night. The Lightning entered the game on the losing streak, losing four in a row and five of their last six games.

It didn’t start well for the Lightning as they gave up a goal four minutes into the game. The goal came off the stick of Chris Kunitz, his 12th of the season. Giving Kunitz six goals in his last six games.

March 4, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby (87) handles the puck in front of Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos (91) during the second period at the CONSOL Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Penguins played a solid first period and went into intermission with a 1-0 lead. They played a strong defensive and physical first period, especially on Martin St. Louis. They also out shot the Lighting 11-7.

Penguins had a great opportunity as the received a power play chance 15 seconds into the second period when Sidney Crosby drew a tripping call on Victor Hedman. The power play worked great as they got three point blank chances but were unable to get the puck pass Martin Garon. Shortly after the power play ended Garon left the game with an undisclosed injury.

After killing the penalty it took the Lightning 14 seconds to tie the game. The Penguins defense lost the most dangerous scorer on the ice. Steven Stamkos was all by himself standing in front of Marc Andre Fleury tapping home his 16th of the season and tying the game at one.

The Lightning gained the lead on a fluke goal when Nate Thompson spun around and wristing a shot hitting his teammate Tom Pyatt in the face deflecting it high in the air and in behind Fleury as he was expecting a low shot on the ice. The goal was Pyatt’s fifth of the season.

The Penguins had a golden chance to tie the game when they received another power play chance, but could not score. The Penguins have the league leader in power play goals in James Neal (8) and on two of the three power plays he did not touch the puck.

After killing a huge penalty the Penguins were able to tie the game when Malkin made a fantastic move jumping between two defenseman and wristing it pass Anders Lindback  for his fifth of the season. The Penguins didn’t wait long to take the lead. After a great defensive effort by Crosby to strip Stamkos of the puck he was rewarded with a goal, his 11th of the season, after receiving a great pass by Kris Letang setting him up for a one timer.

The Penguins looked more like a complete hockey team in the third period getting great goal tending from Fleury, going all out on the defensive end blocking shots and keeping the Lightning to the outside and getting timely goals from their stars. Neal added an empty netter, his 14th of the season.

The Lightning proved that no matter what they weren’t going to roll over and die and they played hard up until the end adding another goal making the final 4-3. The goal was Stamkos second of the game and 17th of season.

The Penguins will need another strong all around game on Thursday when they take on cross town rivals Philadelphia Flyers.

Tags: Evgeni Malkin Pittsburgh Penguins Sidney Crosby

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