Penguins Beat Lightning 4-2

The Pittsbirgh Penguins scored 2-quick goals in the opening minute of the 3rd-period to beat the down-and-out Tampa Bay Lightning 4-2 on Thursday night.  Evgeni Malkin picked up 2-points (1G, 1A) to record his 99th point of the season, and fell just short of his 100th on an empty net goal by Marian Hossa that came just after the buzzer sounded to end the game.  The win ties the Penguins in points with the New Jersey Devils who have a game in hand.  The Penguins will have a chance to put themselves ahead of the Devils when they meet on Saturday at Mellon Arena and again on Tuesday in New Jersey. 

In the 1st period, the Penguins got on the board first as Jarkko Ruutu jumped on a rebound from a Brooks Orpik shot and notched his 4th goal of the season at 14:20.  Max Talbot was credited with the other assist.  After he put the puck in net, Ruutu took a high stick to the face from Dan Boyle.  Boyle was only assessed a 2-minute penalty despite the fact that Ruutu was bleeding and required 10-15 stitches before returning to the game.  Shots were even at 8 in the 1st, and both teams failed to convert on one man-advantage opportunity.

In the 2nd, the Lightning evened the score at 4:18 on a Vincent Lecavalier powerplay goal as Jarkko Ruutu sat for a boarding call.  Jussi Jokinen and Filip Kuba picked up the assists on the play.  Evgeni Malkin put the Penguins back in the lead at 10:05 as he scored his 42nd of the season on a bad-angle backhander that he lifted above a sprawling Mike Smith.  Ryan Whitney had the lone assist.  The Penguins were outshot 6-4 in the 2nd, went 0-for-1 on the powerplay, and 1-for-2 on the penalty kill.

In the 3rd, the Penguins scored twice in the 1st minute of play to put the game out of reach for the Lightning.  The first goal came at 0:35 as Jordan Staal buried a rebound off from a Pascal Dupuis shot for his 12th goal of the season.  It was Staal’s 3rd-goal and 4th-point in the last 5-games.  Pascal Dupuis has been on fire for the Penguins as he recorded his 7th assist in the last 4-games.  Just 16-seconds later, Petr Sykora netted his 26th of the season off from a feed from Evgeni Malkin and Ryan Malone.  A minute later, the Lightning got the final tally on a powerplay goal by Filip Kuba as Petr Sykora sat for slashing.  Martin St. Louis and Jussi Jokinen picked up the assists.  The Penguins outshot the Lightning 11-7 in the final frame and were 0-for-1 on the powerplay and 1-for-2 on the penalty kill. 

Evgeni Malkin’s 99th point puts him 3-points behind Alexander Ovechkin in the NHL scoring race, with a game in hand.  The Penguins host the New Jersey Devils in a Eastern Conference showdown at Mellon Arena on Saturday night. 

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