Offense Ends Slumber, Lightning Defeat Penguins 5-4

Stars Come Out For Playoff Atmosphere Battle

Yanni Gourde, Erik Cernak, Anthony Cirelli, Tyler Johnson, and J.T. Miller each scored and Andrei Vasilevskiy made 28 saves as the Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-4.

The game had a playoff feel to it from feisty play on the ice to stars in attendance throughout the arena. The list of attendees included new Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians, former Bucanneers head coach Tony Dungy, Pittsburgh Pirates Manager Clint Hurdle, and actor John Travolta.

Lightning coach Jon Cooper was asked after the game if he likes having these playoff type atmosphere games, his response was simple. “I like winning.”

 “That should be the big point to take out of this. I don’t know, it was a weird game. We’ve had weird games against them. It’s feisty, is that the word?” He continued. “It’s every (game) against them. There’s going to be more of them like that as we go down the stretch as everybody is in the fight to get in.”

With the win the Bolts end their two game losing streak and avoid losing three in a row for the first time this season.  They improve to 40-11-4 (84 points) on the season and reach the 40 win plateau for the sixth consecutive season and 10th time in franchise history.

Pittsburgh’s Sydney Crosby played in his 916th career game to surpass Mario Lemieux as the franchise leader in games played.

Garrett Wilson, Jared McCann, Bryan Rust, and Tanner Pearson each scored for Pittsburgh who fall to 28-20-7 (63-points) on the season.

“I thought our fight was there all night long. We pushed back and kept fighting to get back in the game.” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. ” The goals they scored were good goals. They were not easy to stop. (DeSmith) made some real big saves in the first period to keep us in the game. I thought the second and third periods were much better, but having said that the quality of their chances were pretty high.”

The game was physical all night, but that’s what to expect from two teams that want to get two points. “Yeah tons of fun though.” Bryan Rust said. “Those are the games you got to expect here down the line, and that’s not going to change in the coming days.”

Lightning Notes:

  • Yanni Gourde scored the Lightning’s first goal to tie the game 1-1 in the first period. It was Gourde’s 14th goal of the season.  Brayden Point and Victor Hedman each picked up an assist.
  • The assist for Hedman was his 400th career point.
  • Later in the period, Erik Cernak put the Bolts up 2-1 scoring his second goal of the season. Cedric Paquette and Brayden Coburn each picked up assist.
  • Anthony Cirelli scored a short-handed goal to push the Bolts lead to 3-1 in the second period. It was Cirelli’s fourth short-handed goal this season, tying him for the NHL lead. It was the Bolts sixth short-handed goal of the season. Alex Killorn and Ryan McDonaugh each picked up an assist.
  • Tyler Johnson opened the third period scoring his 19th goal of the season to put the Bolts up 4-3.  Ondrej Palat and Steven Stamkos each picked up an assist on the goal.
  • J.T. Miller added to the Bolts lead scoring his 9th goal to put Tampa Bay up 5-3 with 5:57 remaining. Alex Killorn and Anthony Cirelli each picked up an assist.
  • It was the second point of the game for both Killorn and Cirelli marking the third such game for each this season.

Up Next:

Tampa Bay travels to South Florida to take on the Panthers Sunday night at 6:00.  The Penguins head back to the Keystone State to take on the Philadelphia Flyers on Monday night at 7:00.