PITTSBURGH — The Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday got revenge on the Penguins for spoiling their banner night earlier this month, beating them, 5-1, at PPG Paints Arena.
The Penguins were not as pesky or as sharp Tuesday as they were during Saturday’s thumping of the Toronto Maple Leafs, and they couldn’t overcome a blown call in the first period, a sudden momentum swing during the second and their lack of the firepower needed to shoot their way back into the game in the third.
It was the first time in six games this season that they lost in regulation.
The Penguins on Oct. 12 dominated the two-time defending champion Lightning in their season opener, 6-2. Afterward, Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper ripped his team’s energy and execution, saying it was so poor that the Lightning, who that night had its banner-raising ceremony, would have lost to a minor-league team.
Two weeks later, the Lightning showed up at PPG Paints Arena with significantly more snarl. The first period was physical and seemingly everyone on the visiting bench wanted a piece of Sam Lafferty after he crushed Ryan McDonagh along the boards. Lafferty grappled with McDonagh and later big Corey Perry.
After the Lightning had the Penguins on their heels early on, the home team pushed back. And they would have grabbed a 1-0 lead if not for a quick whistle.
Brock McGinn whipped a shot on net then charged in for the rebound. The puck rolled over the right shoulder of Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy and dropped into the blue paint. McGinn was about to poke it in when a whistle shrieked. The puck was never close to being pinned but one referee lost sight of it.
Needless to say, Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan was not pleased, especially after McGinn skated alone to the penalty box after the post-whistle scrum.
The Lightning took control of the game in the second, starting with Brayden Point’s goal 31 seconds into the period. They caught the Penguins snoozing with a speedy breakout that led to a 2-on-1 and Point made them pay. The Penguins allowed only two odd-man rushes in their first meeting on Oct. 12, per Sportlogiq.
The Penguins seemed on the verge of tying the score back up midway through the period when they possessed the puck in the offensive zone for more than a minute, with the team changing lines while playing keep-away. But the Lightning got a clear then Ondrej Palat beat ’s glove with a long-range wrister.
It was a back-breaking sequence, and the Lightning pushed the lead to 3-0 just 10 seconds later when McDonagh swooped in from the point for a one-timer.
Tuesday was the first time in five starts that Jarry, who was among the NHL leaders in goals-against average and save percentage, gave up more than two goals.
Jason Zucker spoiled Vasilevskiy’s shutout bid with 2:17 left in the third period. The Lightning scored two empty-netters to make the outcome more lopsided.
The Penguins were without the services of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Bryan Rust, Jeff Carter and Kris Letang in the loss. And that lack of game-breakers showed up once they had to try to dig themselves out of a multiple-goal deficit.
They did still have Jake Guentzel and Kasperi Kapanen. However, their slow starts continue on. Guentzel scored in his first game back from COVID but has struggled to make an impact without Crosby, his playmaker center, available to get him the puck. Kapanen, meanwhile, isn’t getting shots on goal, let alone in one.
Zucker had a quiet night, too, prior to his late tap-in and Danton Heinen has cooled off after scoring a goal in each of his first three games with the Penguins.
The Penguins will continue their eight-game homestand on Thursday when another challenging opponent, the Calgary Flames, comes to PPG Paints Arena.©2021 PG Publishing Co. Visit at post-gazette.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.