A common trend with road games, the Penguins jumped out to an early first period lead with a goal from Sidney Crosby, 1:16 into the opening frame. The Pittsburgh captain followed up his eighth goal of the year, with his ninth goal when he was the last Penguin to touch the puck before Lightning goaltender Anders Lindback deflected a shot into his own net. Pittsburgh closed out the period at 19:26 when Paul Martin, continuing his rebound season, wristed a loose puck into the Tampa Bay net to put Pittsburgh ahead 3-0 at the intermission.
Before the puck dropped to begin the second period, Guy Boucher made a change in net. The Lightning coach replaced an ineffective Lindback with ex-Penguin Mathieu Garon. Tampa Bay responded to this change by closing the gap between them and the Penguins. First, Eric Brewer fired a shot that found its way past Marc-Andre Fleury less than two minutes into the period. With the Lightning coming within two of Pittsburgh, Craig Adams was given a boarding penalty. On the ensuing power play, Steven Stamkos took a pass from Teddy Purcell and one-timed past Fleury to bring Tampa within one of the lead. With the momentum tilting toward the Tampa Bay side, Pittsburgh got a two-man advantage after interference calls on Brewer and Sami Salo. Penguins coach Dan Bylsma put out Beau Bennett to take Evgeni Malkin’s spot on the first power play unit, and he delivered with his first career NHL goal, off a pass from Crosby to give Pittsburgh a 4-2 advantage at the break.
The third period began similarly to how the second period started. There was no goaltending change, but the Lightning closed back up to the Penguins when rookie Cory Conacher scored his seventh goal of the season, with Victor Hedman and Stamkos getting the helpers. With the period winding down, and no power play opportunities coming their way, Tampa Bay pulled Garon for an extra skater. Matt Cooke took advantage of this situation to score his third goal of the campaign and put the game out of reach of the Lightning.
With their 5-3 victory, Pittsburgh moves into a tie with the Montreal Canadiens for first place in the Eastern Conference with twenty-six points.
The Penguins head back on the road for the next three games, beginning in Florida for another meeting with the Panthers.
-Matt Cooke got his 200th career assist on Martin’s first period goal.
-After the game, Bylsma announced that Malkin had suffered some short-term memory loss, and will not travel with the team due to a concussion.
1. Sidney Crosby (2 goals, 1 assist)
2. Steven Stamkos (1 goal, 2 assists)
3. Beau Bennett (1 goal)