Tuesday, January 16, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

Lightning can't stand up to relentless Penguins (w/ video)

TAMPA — They came at Andrei Vasilevskiy in waves.

They came at him from his left, from his right, from directly in front.

All the talk by the Lightning since the end Monday's Game 2 of the East final about limiting the Penguins' scoring chances, about limiting their shots, about controlling the puck and the pace of the game never materialized Wednesday in Game 3.

The Penguins sent 48 shots Vasilevskiy's way. He stopped 44.

What's a kid to do?

"It's hard to win games when you're giving up 50 shots," defenseman Anton Stralman said. "Again, Vasi was tremendous for us, holding us in there. But in the end, it just bites us."

The Penguins gained control of the best-of-seven series with their second straight win, 4-2 at Amalie Arena.

Vasilevskiy has faced 89 shots during the past two games as the Penguins dictated the pace of play both nights.

The Lightning allowed 40-plus shots only three times during the regular season. It hadn't allowed 40-plus shots in back-to-back games since October 2011.

Those 48 shots Wednesday were the most allowed in a regulation playoff game in team history.

The Penguins had the deeper offense heading into the series. They had more scoring punch and the speed to control the action. They proved that in the past two games.

What's more, Sidney Crosby is feeling it with goals in Games 2 and 3.

The Lightning started strong, holding an 8-2 edge in shots eight minutes into the game. After that, it was all Penguins.

"I thought we started off real good," Stralman said.

That Pittsburgh led 1-0 heading into the third period had a lot to do with the Lightning's young goalie. The lone goal came with 10 seconds left in the second period when Carl Hagelin converted a rebound after Vasilevskiy stopped Phil Kessel's shot.

But the Pens finished off the Lightning with a third period that included 17 shots.

"You're not going to win too many games when you give up that many," center Tyler Johnson said. "Vasi gave us every opportunity to come back in the game. I honestly feel real bad for him, because he did play so well. The last 2½ games he's been great for us. It's definitely not his fault. We have to be way better in front of him. We have to fix our problems and go from there."

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