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Lightning blows lead against Penguins, loses seventh in eight games (w/video)

Penguins center Sidney Crosby smashes the puck past Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy to tie the score during the third period, one of the Pittsburgh captain’s two goals in the game.
Penguins center Sidney Crosby smashes the puck past Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy to tie the score during the third period, one of the Pittsburgh captain’s two goals in the game.
Published Dec. 11, 2016

TAMPA — Jonathan Drouin outhustled Ian Cole to a loose puck in front of the Penguins net and did what playmakers do. He put a nifty move on goalie Matthew Murray and backhanded a shot off the post and into the net.

It was the type of highlight-reel goal you might see on the Amalie Arena video board game after game for the rest of the season.

The goal put the Lightning on top by two midway through the second period against the defending Stanley Cup champions.

An enviable position, for sure, except that the Penguins haven't skipped a beat since last June.

"There's a lot of firepower on the other side," Drouin said.

The Penguins showed that by rallying for a 4-3 victory Saturday night on the strength of three power play goals.

It was the fifth straight win for the Penguins (18-7-3), who are 6-6-1 this season when trailing after two periods.

The Lightning (14-13-2) has lost seven of its past eight.

Pittsburgh's comeback began with a power play goal by Evgeni Malkin at 17:25 of the second period. Power play goals in the third by Sidney Crosby and Malkin finished the comeback.

While the Lightning continues to look for a way out of this funk, it felt it played well enough Saturday to beat most teams.

"They're a really good team, too. You can't take anything away from them," coach Jon Cooper said. "They're the defending champs, and they pretty much kept going from last year, so you give them credit. We gave them five power plays. They scored on three of them. That's where it's kind of tough. We got to kill one more of those off, and we didn't. That cost us."

Drouin, who scored a pair of goals, said the Lightning played with more energy and emotion than it did during Thursday's 5-1 loss to visiting Vancouver.

"We were in the game physically and emotionally," he said.

It was Drouin who countered a first-period goal by Crosby with one of his own, a shot from the top of the left faceoff circle while blood seeped through a bandage on his right cheekbone.

Drouin took a blade to his face on a high-stick from Malkin.

"It was definitely a good high-stick there," Drouin said. "Got a couple of stitches and got back out there."

Valtteri Filppula gave the Lightning the lead when he skated up the right side and fired the puck past Murray just 3:38 into the second period.

Maybe if the Lightning had kept a two-goal lead after two. Maybe if it had found a way to cash in on several third-period chances.

But Pittsburgh is lethal in the third period, outscoring opponents 39-17.

The comeback felt almost inevitable.

"Obviously the result (stinks), but if you look at the whole picture, it was a big step forward from the Vancouver game," defenseman Anton Stralman said. "But they're a really, really good team, too. You got to put that into effect, too, and we held up pretty good in a time when we're struggling."

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Penguins 1 1 2 4
Lightning 1 2 0 3

First Period1, Pittsburgh, Crosby 19 (Dumoulin, Letang), 12:03. 2, Tampa Bay, Drouin 5 (Stralman, Kucherov), 17:57 (pp). PenaltiesNesterov, TB, (holding), 4:43; Kucherov, TB, Major (fighting), 8:52; Daley, PIT, Major (fighting), 8:52; Malkin, PIT, (high sticking), 16:07; Malkin, PIT, (high sticking), 16:07; Killorn, TB, (tripping), 19:13.

Second Period3, Tampa Bay, Filppula 6 (Nesterov), 3:38. 4, Tampa Bay, Drouin 6 (Namestnikov, Garrison), 10:19. 5, Pittsburgh, Malkin 11 (Letang, Kessel), 17:25 (pp). PenaltiesCrosby, PIT, (slashing), 1:01; Sustr, TB, (holding), 15:52.

Third Period6, Pittsburgh, Crosby 20 (Kessel, Letang), 5:08 (pp). 7, Pittsburgh, Malkin 12 (Kessel, Daley), 8:36 (pp). PenaltiesDaley, PIT, (slashing), 1:57; Killorn, TB, (holding stick), 1:57; Nesterov, TB, (high sticking), 3:41; Coburn, TB, (hooking), 8:25; Cole, PIT, Major (fighting), 8:25; Paquette, TB, Major (fighting), 8:25; Paquette, TB, Misconduct (misconduct), 8:25; Hornqvist, PIT, (tripping), 19:44. Shots on GoalPittsburgh 15-11-11—37. Tampa Bay 8-6-9—23. Power-play opportunitiesPittsburgh 3 of 5; Tampa Bay 1 of 4. GoaliesPittsburgh, Murray 10-2-0 (23 shots-20 saves). Tampa Bay, Vasilevskiy 6-3-1 (37-33). A19,092 (19,204). T2:40. Referees—Jean Hebert, Dean Morton. LinesmenJonny Murray, Pierre Racicot.