TAMPA — The Lightning bailed itself out of its offensive rut Tuesday night thanks to a speedy forward still recovering from the flu.
Tyler Johnson scored his second career hat trick to give the Lightning a 4-3 win over the Penguins in front of a sold-out crowd of 19,204 at Amalie Arena.
"Happy holidays, right?" Johnson said.
The three-day Christmas break will certainly be happier thanks to Johnson and his line, which was responsible for all four goals to help the Lightning (21-11-4) earn its third win in the past nine games and snap a 10-game losing streak to the Penguins.
Johnson's first goal came 6:54 into the first period when his shot hit goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury's pad and went into the net for his fifth goal in his past 13 games. He added another with 3.4 seconds left in the first when his blast from just outside the left circle squeaked past Fleury's right shoulder.
"It was a heck of a shot," coach Jon Cooper said.
Linemate Nikita Kucherov added his 14th goal of the season 52 seconds into the second period. Matt Carle fired a long pass to Kucherov, who put the puck past Fleury to end the goalie's night and give him his second regulation loss in his past 15 games. Kucherov added two assists, and Ondrej Palat finished with a career-high three assists.
Johnson scored his 13th goal of the season and completed his first hat trick since Jan. 25 less than two minutes later.
The Lightning took advantage of a depleted Pittsburgh roster that had 12 players out with illness or injury and was playing its second game in as many nights. When Fleury left the game in the second period, the Penguins dropped to their third-string goalie, Jeff Zatkoff, who was playing in his first game of the season.
Tampa Bay was short-handed, too, with starting goalie Ben Bishop still out with a lower-body injury. Rookie Andrei Vasilevskiy made his third career start and finished with 26 saves, including one on a Sidney Crosby breakaway in the third.
"That was Crosby?" Vasilevskiy said. "Cool."
The Eastern Conference-leading Penguins made it interesting late with two third-period goals — one on a breakaway by Chris Kunitz and another on a six-on-five shot by defenseman Kris Letang with 1:31 left.
But the Lightning hung on to secure its first win over the Penguins since November 2011.
"It's one of the only teams I haven't beaten," Johnson said. "Still some others out there, but we're coming for them."
First Period—1, Tampa Bay, Johnson 11 (Kucherov, Palat), 6:54. 2, Tampa Bay, Johnson 12 (Palat, Hedman), 19:56. Penalties—Dumoulin, Pit (tripping), 10:57; Connolly, TB (interference), 11:15; Hornqvist, Pit (roughing), 16:06.
Second Period—3, Tampa Bay, Kucherov 14 (Carle, Filppula), :52. 4, Tampa Bay, Johnson 13 (Kucherov, Palat), 2:37. 5, Pittsburgh, Hornqvist 13 (Klinkhammer), 10:15. Penalties—Farnham, Pit, major (fighting), :53; Morrow, TB, major (fighting), :53; Johnson, TB (interference), 20:00.
Third Period—6, Pittsburgh, Kunitz 10 (Malkin), 9:55. 7, Pittsburgh, Letang 8 (Hornqvist, Malkin), 18:29. Penalties—Hornqvist, Pit (tripping), :31; Kunitz, Pit (tripping), 7:46. Shots on Goal—Pittsburgh 7-12-10—29. Tampa Bay 8-12-7—27. Power-play opportunities—Pittsburgh 0 of 2; Tampa Bay 0 of 4. Goalies—Pittsburgh, Fleury (10 shots-7 saves), Zatkoff 0-1-0 (0:52 second, 17-16). Tampa Bay, Vasilevskiy 2-1-0 (29-26). A—19,204 (19,204). T—2:28. Referees—Kyle Rehman, Francois St. Laurent. Linesmen—Shandor Alphonso, Pierre Racicot.