Pittsburgh 8 – Tampa Bay 1
With the Tampa Bay Lightning (24-12-5, 53 pts) coming off an emotional victory Tuesday night against the Washington Capitals, all it took was seven seconds for the Pittsburgh Penguins (26-12-3, 55pts) to put Wednesday night’s game away.
Chris Kunitz scored three goals, recording his second career hat trick and Evgeni Malkin scored seven seconds into the game and the Penguins thumped the Tampa Bay Lightning, 8-1 at the Consol Energy Center.
Pittsburgh scored four times on it’s first eight shots and collected five first period goals, which was the most goals in a first period since December 26 1990, according to STATS LLC.
11 different players recorded points in the win and defensemen Kris Letang and Alex Goligoski combined for seven points in the victory.
Goligoski had a career high four points, collecting a goal and three assists, while Kris Letang added three assists, giving him 36 points on the season, which marks a career high.
Pittsburgh is 26-12-3, 55pts at the half way mark of the season.
For the Penguins, they started fast and continued their dominance against the Southeast division in improving to 10-2 against the Southeast this season.
In a matchup of superstars Steven Stamkos and Sidney Crosby, both players had quiet nights, as Crosby was limited to 1 assists and Stamkos was held pointless.
Kunitz said the Penguins can get the job done on some nights without Crosby having to be a big factor on the stat sheet.
“We don’t have to rely on Sid every night, ” Kunitz said, who netted goals 11, 12, and 13 on the season, matching his total from last season.
Chris Conner (5), Tyler Kennedy (6) and Mark Letestu (9) also scored for Pittsburgh.
Kennedy and Conner each had a goal and an assist and Letestu scored a beautiful goal at the 12:54 mark in the second period, showing great hands around the net for his 9th goal of the season.
Marc Andre Fleury made 31 saves to record his 18th win of the season.
*Pittsburgh scratched Arron Asham (healthy), Deryk Engelland (healthy) and Eric Godard.
*The Penguins traveled immediately to Montreal after the game and will not have a morning skate on Thursday.
The Penguins outshot Tampa Bay 41-32 and went 2-for-4 on the power play.
Jordan Staal appeared in his first game at the Consol Energy Center. Staal had an assist taken away from him and was pointless in the win. Staal had 14:06 of ice time and was 11-for-18 on faceoffs.
Defenseman Ben Lovejoy returned to the lineup and collected 2 assists. Six Penguins had multi-point games.
PIT: 0:07 Evgeni Malkin (15)
PIT: 2:23 Chris Conner (5) | Assists: Ben Lovejoy, Matt Cooke
PIT: 7:17 Tyler Kennedy (6) | Assists: Kris Letang
PIT: 7:42 Chris Kunitz (11) | Assists: Sidney Crosby, Pascal Dupuis
PIT: 18:56 Chris Kunitz (12) (Power Play) | Assists: Alex Goligoski, Kris Letang
PIT: 12:54 Mark Letestu (9) | Assists: Tyler Kennedy, Alex Goligoski
PIT: 19:49 Chris Kunitz (13) (Power Play) | Assists: Alex Goligoski, Kris Letang
TB: 2:25 Adam Hall (5)
Assists: Nate Thompson, Dana Tyrell
PIT: 3:38 Alex Goligoski (7) | Assists: Chris Conner, Ben Lovejoy