PITTSBURGH — The net was wide open.
Sidney Crosby, one of the world's top players, had the puck on his stick just a few feet away from the right post midway through the second.
Nine times out of 10, that's a goal for the Penguins star.
But Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy slid side-to-side, swiping the potential go-ahead goal with his glove at the goal line.
"I got pretty good wood on it. He's a big guy and can cover a lot of net and got over pretty quick," Crosby said.
"I thought I had a pretty good chance of scoring there."
After being robbed several times, Crosby finally beat Vasilevskiy when it counted, scoring the winner 40 seconds into overtime to hand the Lightning a 3-2 loss in Game 2, evening the best-of-seven Eastern Conference final.
But Vasilevskiy was the only reason the Lightning, outshot 41-21, even made it to overtime.
"He was tremendous," defenseman Anton Stralman said. "He played like he's done nothing else but play in playoff games."
The Lightning will take a split in the first two games at Consol Energy Center as the series shifts to Tampa for Wednesday's Game 3. But, more important, Vasilevskiy showed why Tampa Bay could win this series even if starter Ben Bishop, day to day with a left leg injury, can't return.
"You never want to lose your No. 1 guy in Bish," coach Jon Cooper said. "But we've got 1A-plus behind him. He was outstanding."
This one didn't look good early, the Penguins scoring twice in the first 10 minutes, both on rebounds. But Vasilevskiy wasn't shaken, holding Pittsburgh scoreless the next 50 minutes, enabling a comeback. Stralman, in his first game since fracturing his leg March 25, scored with three minutes left in the first.
"I felt pretty comfortable out there," Stralman said. "Overall pretty good."
Jonathan Drouin continued his monster postseason with his second goal in as many games, another world-class shot.
The Penguins found another level in the third, when Brian Boyle said the Lightning stopped skating, with too many turnovers. But Vasilevskiy saved the day.
With seven minutes left in regulation, Vasilevskiy got the shaft of his stick on another Crosby chance from the right circle. Twenty seconds later, he stopped Chris Kunitz's point-blank chance. Kunitz had another great look with seven minutes to go, Vasilevskiy having lost his stick. But Boyle quickly gave Vasilevskiy his stick, and the goaltender swallowed the attempt from the right slot.
"He gave us a chance. He's fabulous," Boyle said of Vasilevskiy. Said Drouin: "He bailed us out."
Crosby beat Vasilevskiy in the first minute of overtime, but in many ways the Lightning didn't deserve this one. It'll have to be better, especially in the third periods, to reach its second straight Stanley Cup final.
"We do it in spurts," Cooper said. "But we haven't done it for six periods now against these guys."
Said Boyle: "We've got to keep it going. It's a series. We can't expect to put on our gear and make magic happen. It takes some work."
Contact Joe Smith at [email protected] Follow @TBTimes_JSmith.
First Period—1, Pittsburgh, Cullen 4 (Fehr, Kuhnhackl), 4:32. 2, Pittsburgh, Kessel 6 (Bonino, Hagelin), 9:37. 3, Tampa Bay, Stralman 1 (Marchessault, Hedman), 16:37. 4, Tampa Bay, Drouin 3 (Brown, Carle), 19:10. Penalties_Killorn, TB (holding), 13:23; Drouin, TB (hooking), 16:53.
Second Period—None. Penalty_Murray, Pit (tripping), 7:02; Third Period_None. Penalties_None.
Overtime—5, Pittsburgh, Crosby 4 (Rust, Dumoulin), :40. Penalties_None.
Shots on Goal—Tampa Bay 8-7-6-0—21. Pittsburgh 14-8-16-3—41. Power-play opportunities—Tampa Bay 0 of 1; Pittsburgh 0 of 2. Goalies—Tampa Bay, Vasilevskiy 1-1 (41 shots-38 saves). Pittsburgh, Murray 9-5 (21-19). A—18,534 (18,387). T—2:48.