They always say that it’s not how you start, but how you finish.
The Pittsburgh Penguins did their best to disprove that theory Thursday night in Tampa, as they started each period fast, scoring five goals with the opening minutes of each period, en route to a 6-3 win over the Tampa Bay Lighting.
Tomas Vokoun got the start in net and bailed the Penguins out early with a couple of nice saves.
Then the Pens got started quickly, netting a pair of goals in the span of 1:55.
Jussi Jokinen got the Penguins on the board with his eighth goal of the season and second in three games in a Penguins uniform. Another one of the newcomers, Brenden Morrow made the play on the goal by driving hard to the net. Morrow’s initial shot was stopped by Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop, but the rebound went off of Jokinen’s skate and into the net.
Pascal Dupuis got the second assist on the Jokinen goal and he continued his torrid goal scoring pace, netting his 20th of the season when his shot snuck just under the arm of the 6’7” Bishop as the Penguins capitalized on their first power play opportunity of the night.
Bishop helped keep the Lightning in the game through one period and Tampa closed the gap when Teddy Purcell scored his ninth goal of the season, capitalizing on the Lightning’s first power play after Evgeni Malkin was called for tripping.
The Pens started the second period fast as well, when Chris Kunitz scored his 21st goal of the season, taking advantage of another power play.
Jarome Iginla was originally given credit for the goal after he leaned into a one-timer and unleashed a rocket of a shot. Kris Letang, who returned the lineup after missing six games, put the puck on a platter for Iginla and Kunitz got his stick to tip it past Bishop for the 3-1 lead.
However Tampa didn’t go away as Brett Connolly scored on the power play to make it 3-2.
Beau Bennett was called for a weak hooking call on Steven Stamkos and Connolly struck quickly, beating Vokoun for his first goal of the season.
But while this was a one-goal game after two periods, the Penguins put the game away early in the third when Evgeni Malkin scored a 4-on-4 goal to make it a 4-2 game. The goal was Malkin’s eighth on the season and it moved him up to seventh on the Penguins all-time scoring list, moving past Kevin Stevens with 556 points.
Less than three minutes later, Jokinen was at it again, getting his second of the night as he deflected a shot from Douglas Murray past Bishop to make it 5-2.
The Penguins added a late one when Dan Bylsma ran Tanner Glass out on a 5-on-3 power play and Glass came through and scored his first goal of the season, which was nice to see him get rewarded for the hard work he has put in all season.
Purcell added a meaningless goal with 18 seconds left to round out the scoring.
In his return to the ice, Letang played 24:21 in his first game back in the lineup and had an assist and three shots on goal.
The Penguins outshot the Lightning 41-19 on the night and the win extends their streak to three in a row.