TAMPA — They came at Andrei Vasilevskiy in waves again Friday night. This time, it began in the third period when the Penguins played with the desperation they lacked during the first two periods.
And suddenly a four-goal lead was down to three, then two, then one.
The Penguins made it very interesting in the waning minutes of Game 4, but the Lightning held on for a 4-3 victory that evened the Eastern Conference final at two games each.
"It doesn't matter how you get (the wins)," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "Sure, we elevated the heartbeat of 18,000 people in the building. Shame on anyone who left early."
The Penguins' attack finally came to life. They controlled the play for much of the third period and sent 16 shots at Vasilevskiy.
Vasilevskiy stopped 13 of them, five in the final eight minutes when the score was 4-3.
"He played great," Jonathan Drouin said of his goalie. "It's definitely huge for him. How many shots did he take in Game 3?"
That would be 48, the most faced in franchise history during a regulation playoff game by a Lightning goalie. Vasilevskiy made 44 saves that night.
It only seemed Vasilevskiy faced the same barrage in Friday's final 20 minutes.
The Penguins managed 38 shots on goal for the game. Vasilevskiy stopped 35 to earn his first postseason victory in a game he started.
It appeared after two periods, when the Lightning built a 4-0 lead, that Vasilevskiy was in for a less stressful evening.
Then Phil Kessel snapped the puck past him 1 minute, 18 seconds into the third and the Penguins were off. Evgeni Malkin made it a two-goal game at the 11:13 mark. Less than two minutes later Chris Kunitz trimmed the lead to one with a power-play goal.
In addition to those five shots on goal to tie the score, they missed the net on three other occasions.
"We still had the lead," defenseman Victor Hedman said. "Obviously, being up four goals we knew they were going to push. I don't think we lost control of the game. … Vasy made some big saves for us."