Things began somewhat slow for Tampa Bay as Chris Kunitz scored mere seconds after Pierre-Cedric Labrie and Deryk Engelland were sent to the box with fighting majors. The assist went to Sidney Crosby, who, at 35 points, regained sole possession of first place in the Art Ross trophy race. He later scored, bringing his point total to 36.
Steven Stamkos took over during the second period, deflecting a Victor Hedman shot past Marc-Andre Fleury for his league-leading 16th goal. Then Tom Pyatt showed he isn’t afraid to pay the price as a Nate Thompson shot rocketed off his nose and into the net for a 2-1 lead. Fans on Twitter even joked about it afterward, saying he has a nose for the net.
The goal by Stamkos came only 20 seconds after goaltender Mathieu Garon left the game due to injury, pressing Anders Lindback into duty. There’s no news on the extent of the injury, but head coach Guy Boucher did say in his post game comments that they plan to call up Cedrick Desjardins from AHL Syracuse.
A late turnover by Eric Brewer in his own zone proved costly, with Evgeni Malkin scoring to tie things. Then, nearly two minutes later, Crosby scored off a 2-on-1 rush to give the Pens back their lead. Honestly, Boucher just looked tired when asked about this immediately following the game and I don’t blame him because it’s the same thing that hurt the Lightning on Saturday in Boston.
James Neal added an empty netter for the Pens. The Lightning wouldn’t give up, though, as Stamkos stuffed home a rebound with eight seconds remaining.
This loss has the Lightning, losers of five straight, sliding toward the league basement. They now hope to turn things around tonight versus the always dangerous New Jersey Devils. There’s absolutely no other choice.