The Pittsburgh Penguins battled back from a 3-1 defecit, but ultimately lost to the Tampa Bay Lightning in a shootout when #1 draft pick Steven Stamkos scored the deciding goal on Saturday night. The Lightning, under new head coach and former ESPN color analyst Barry Melrose, sat many of its veterans for the pre-season opener, including Vinny Lecavalier and Martin St Louis. Also missing from the lineup were former Penguins’ Ryan Malone, Gary Roberts, Mark Recchi, and Adam Hall. Pittsburgh played many of its young stars, to include Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Jordan Staal and Marc-Andre Fleury. They also played newcomer Miroslav Satan, but sat Ruslan Fedotenko in favor of Janne Pesonen who picked up an assist.
The game started with Jordan Staal netting a quick goal just 51 seconds into the first period. Staal’s goal was assisted by Evgeni Malkin and rookie defesneman Ben Lovejoy. It was the only goal of the first period as Marc-Andre Fleury turned aside all 10 of the Lightning shots. The Penguins put up 9-shots. Defensemen Sergei Gonchar left the game in the first and didn’t return after being hit by 6’6″ heavyweight David Koci. Gonchar will be evaluated today, but reportedly suffered a shoulder injury. In response, Eric Godard took Koci’s number and squared off with him in the games’ first fight of the night at 11:54, sending both to the box for 5-minutes (Georges Laraque take note, wherever you are).
In the second, Marc-Andre Fleury and the Penguins gave up 3-straight goals to the Lightning as Janne Niskala, Wyatt Smith, and Brandon Bochenski all converted at even strength in a span of just under 5-minutes. The Penguins finally hit back late in the second as Petr Sykora notched a 5-on-3 power play goal at 15:18 to draw within 1. Miroslav Satan and Jordan Staal picked up the assists. Ryan Stone stepped into a fight early in the period, but was outmatched against the heavier Zenon Konopka. After a slow start to the period, the Penguins finished by outscoring the Lightning 12-9.
In the 3rd period, it was Petr Sykora striking on the power play again as he notched his 2nd of the night at 10:11 during 5-on-4 play. Janne Pesonen and Alex Goligoski were credited with the assists on the play. At 12:51, Kris Beach was given a 5-minute major and a game misconduct penalty for boarding, setting up an extended short-handed situation for the Penguins. However at 17:07, Sidney Crosby notched the go-ahead goal with an unassisted, short-hander. Unfortunately, with just over a minute to go, Brandon Bochenski scored his second of the night to tie it back up. Shots were 9-8 Tampa.
After a scoreless overtime period, the game went to the shootout. Jussi Jokinen and Steven Stamkos both converted on the shootout, while Miroslave Satan and Evgeni Malkin were thwarted to give the Lightning the win.
- NHL Official Game Summary
- NHL Official Game Rosters
- VIDEO: Janne Pesonen Interview
- VIDEO: Sidney Crosby Interview
- VIDEO: Coach Therrien
The Penguins match up against the Lightning again on Monday night in Tampa Bay.