PITTSBURGH 4 – TAMPA BAY 3 OT
NEAL SCORES OT WINNER: The Pittsburgh Penguins (46-19-5, 97 pts) went to overtime for the second straight game and this time prevailed. The Tampa Bay Lightning were caught with a too many men penalty 1:11 into overtime, and 16 seconds later James Neal blistered a one-timer past Anders Lindback, lifting the Penguins to a 4-3 win over the Lightning on Saturday afternoon. The OT winner was Neal’s 3rd overtime goal of the season, tying six others for the franchise record in a season.
MALKIN HAS DOMINANT GAME: While Neal netted the OT winner, the story of the game was the play of Evgeni Malkin. Malkin was dominant with two third period goals and added two assists for a 4 point game. “You can’t stop him when he’s going like that,” Sidney Crosby said. Pittsburgh can only hope they see the Malkin they’ve seen the last two games on a consistent basis in the playoffs. “He just dominanted the whole game, drew two or three penalties at least. He was on fire,” Crosby said. Malkin had 2 Goals, 2 Assists, and 5 SOG in the win.
PENS GET BOUNCES LATE: The Penguins got the bounces in overtime as the too many men penalty was one where if the puck doesn’t bounce to the Lightning, it never gets called. “Extremely frustrating how that game ended up,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “It just sucks. The rule sucks. If that pass bounces one way, it’s not too many men. It happens to bounce right to our guy, you know it’s a rule. It’s too many men. Little bit of a bad break, puck coming up our side.”
POWER PLAY SHINES: The Penguins are not a great offensive or defensive team at even strength. They’re a team with great special teams and when you put them on the power play six times you are playing with fire and that was the case for Tampa Bay today. The Lightning put the Penguins on the power play six times and Pittsburgh was 50%, getting power play goals from Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and James Neal who had the OT winner. “Can’t take six penalties against them, that’s the bottom line,” Cooper said. “They’ve got the best PP in the league. Watch five guys they roll out there, not just class, it’s world class.”
LATE BREAKDOWN FROM PENS: Evgeni Malkin put the Penguins up 3-2 with 3:17 in the regulation with a beautiful backhand goal off a Lightning turnover but the Penguins were not able to close out the game in regulation. With four Penguins sitting back, Ondrej Palat came through the neutral zone with speed and blew past Olli Maatta and beat Jeff Zatkoff to tie the game at 3-3 with 1:22 left in third period.
Notes: Sidney Crosby has 1 goal, 2 assists and was 18-for-27 (67%) in the faceoff circle……Jeff Zatkoff made 21 saves to record his 12th win of the season…….Craig Adams appeared in his 276th consecutive game, tying Nick Harbaruk for the third most consecutive games in franchise history….. Pittsburgh outshot Tampa Bay 29-24……Penguins were credited with 10 giveaway’s, Tampa Bay just 4……