After losing their first game of the season Friday night, the Pittsburgh Penguins wanted to get off to a hot start against the Tampa Bay Lightning to avoid losing back-to-back road games to open a season since 1996-1997 season.
In order to do that the Penguins needed to stay out of the penalty box and keep the lethal Lightning power play off the ice. The game didn’t play out like the Pens wanted, but they would get the 5-4 victory on Saturday.
The Penguins were unable to get off to a fast start in the first period, as they took four penalties giving the Lightning three power play opportunities. Luckily, goalie Marc-Andre Fleury and the Penguins penalty killers stood tall and would kill all three penalties.
However, the Penguins could not establish a rhythm to their game and looked sloppy in the first period. While the Lightning would not score on the power play, they would score the first goal of the game. A redirect shot by Valtteri Filppula sneaked by Fleury for his fourth goal of the season.
In the second period, the Penguins had an urgency to establish their forecheck and it lead to a power play opportunity, in which the Penguins would capitalize when Sidney Crosby scored his third of the year.
However, the Lightning didn’t sit back and three minutes later Steven Stamkos netted his fourth of the season to recapture the lead for the Lightning, 2-1. In what turned into a run-and-gun game, with each team trading chances, the Penguins tied the game two minutes later.
The goal came from an unlikely source in Brooks Orpik. The goal wasn’t just Orpik’s first of the year but his first in 111 regular season games. The Penguins continued to gamble against the Lightning power play as they continued to take penalties, but unlike the other three times the Penguins were unable to kill this one. Teddy Purcell deflected a point shot from Sami Salo for his third of the year, once again giving the Lightning the lead.
The Penguins didn’t waste anytime in tying the game as Crosby got his second of the game and fourth of the season 25 seconds into the period. Crosby wasn’t done there as he also gave the Penguins the lead with his third of the game and fifth of the season. It was the Penguins second power play goal of the game set up by a beautiful passing play. Evgeni Malkin hit Jussi Jokinen who then one touched it to Crosby, who snapped it pass the Lightning goalie.
The Lightning would not give up and would tie the game with another power play goal. This one scored by Alex Killorn, his second of the season. It was interesting to see that Stamkos broke his skate on the play and instead of having to get to the bench by himself, like most players do, the referee actually helped Stamkos to the bench. Killorn was the one to replace Stamkos and that allowed the Lightning to score the goal.
It what may have been a make up call by the refs the Penguins would receive a power play with less than two minutes remaining in the third and would not let it go to waste. Matt Niskanen would get his first of the year and the game winning goal on a one-timer with fewer than 20 seconds left on the clock.