for this game

Malkin helps Penguins continue torrid pace

Mar 21, 2008 - 5:43 AM
PITTSBURGH (Ticker) -- Vincent Lecavalier is hot, but the Pittsburgh Penguins are hotter.

Lecavalier scored his eighth goal in six games, but Evgeni Malkin had a goal an assist to lead the Penguins to their sixth win in eight contests, a 4-2 triumph over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday.

Jarkko Ruutu, Jordan Staal and Petr Sykora also tallied for Pittsburgh (42-25-7), which pulled even with idle New Jersey (42-24-7) atop the Atlantic Division.

"It's such a tight race. Every point we can get is good for us," Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury said. "It's a tight race to finish first in our division. It will be tough going."

Fleury turned aside 19 shots for the Penguins, who had gone 0-4-3 in their previous seven home meetings with the Lightning.

"The defense didn't give up many shots or many scoring chances," Fleury said. "The guys played great and they stuck to the system."

"He was good again," Pittsburgh coach Michel Therrien said. "That is a good sign when your goalie looks sharp. He looked really sharp, but I thought our defensive play 5-on-5 was really good again tonight."

Defenseman Filip Kuba scored and Jussi Jokinen recorded two assists for Tampa Bay, which fell to 3-6-1 in its last 10 games.

Pittsburgh drew first blood, literally. After defenseman Brooks Orpik's slap shot from the right point was stopped by goaltender Mike Smith, Ruutu buried the rebound from the left side of the net with 5:40 remaining in the opening period.

As he was scoring, Ruutu was sticked in the face by Tampa Bay defenseman Dan Boyle, giving him a bloody nose. Boyle received a minor for high-sticking on the play.

Ruutu received at least 10 stitches but was not concerned with his appearance.

"I want to win hockey games," he said. "I don't care what I look like.

"This is what I'm all about. I love the playoffs, it fits my style perfectly. There's no free skating, you have to earn everything you get. The little things, you have to chip the puck in. I love the battles."

The Lightning pulled even on the power play early in the second. Lecavalier fired a shot that deflected off Orpik's glove and past Fleury at 4:18 for his 40th goal of the season.

"When you don't make the playoffs, it's not as gratifying," Lecavalier said of his scoring surge.

But Pittsburgh moved ahead for good midway through the period as Malkin grabbed his own rebound at the bottom of the left faceoff circle and lifted a backhander into the net at 10:05 for a 2-1 edge.

The Penguins pulled away in the first minute of the third as Staal and Sykora scored 16 seconds apart.

"That was big," Staal said. "It was a tight game going into the third and we were working pretty well down low, but the puck wasn't going in for us. Then we get a couple quick goals, got a little breathing room there and just played our game."

After a turnover, Staal fired a bouncing puck past Smith from the left circle 35 seconds into the session, and Sykora took a feed from Malkin and drilled a shot from the slot by the netminder moments later for his fifth goal in five games and a 4-1 bulge.

"We knew the third period wasn't their best," Staal said. "We know that the third period's our best, so we just gave it all we got and came out with a win."

Malkin's assist gave him 99 points, three behind league leader Alex Ovechkin of Washington.

It was the second time in as many nights Tampa Bay yielded two goals in 16 seconds during the third period. Entering the third against Buffalo on Wednesday with a 4-1 lead, the Lightning surrendered tallies by Jason Pominville and Jochen Hecht in that time span before Thomas Vanek went on to record a natural hat trick en route to a 7-4 comeback win.

"Two nights in a row, letting up two goals in 16 seconds," an astounded Kuba said. "It's hard to believe."

"Last night, we played two good periods, and obviously the third one didn't go the way we wanted," Lecavalier added. "Tonight, I thought we played well again for two periods. It seems like the chances we gave them were pretty good ones tonight, and they took advantage of them."

Kuba converted a pass from Jokinen exactly one minute later, drawing Tampa Bay within two. Lecavalier also picked up an assist for his 600th career point.

Smith made 19 saves for the Lightning, who went 2-for-5 on the power play. In posting a 3-2-0 record over its last five games, Tampa Bay has gone 7-for-18 with the man advantage during that span.








  • NHL
    FINAL 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    TAMPA BAY 0 1 1 2
    PITTSBURGH 1 1 2 4 FINAL
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: PIT - JARKKO RUUTU 4 (BROOKS ORPIK, MAXIME TALBOT) 14:20
    2ND PRD: TAM - (PP) VINCENT LECAVALIER 40 (JUSSI JOKINEN, FILIP KUBA)
    4:18
    PIT - EVGENI MALKIN 42 (RYAN WHITNEY) 10:05
    3RD PRD: PIT - JORDAN STAAL 12 (PASCAL DU

    Mar 20 9:51 PM


  • NHL
    TAMPA BAY 2
    PITTSBURGH 4
    3RD PRD: TAM - (PP) FILIP KUBA 4 (JUSSI JOKINEN, VINCENT LECAVALIER)
    1:51

    Lightning 2, Penguins 4  3rd - 18:09Mar 20 9:24 PM


  • NHL
    TAMPA BAY 1
    PITTSBURGH 4
    3RD PRD: PIT - PETR SYKORA 26 (EVGENI MALKIN, DARRYL SYDOR) 0:51

    Lightning 1, Penguins 4  3rd - 19:09Mar 20 9:24 PM


  • NHL
    TAMPA BAY 1
    PITTSBURGH 3
    3RD PRD: PIT - JORDAN STAAL 12 (PASCAL DUPUIS) 0:35

    Lightning 1, Penguins 3  3rd - 19:25Mar 20 9:23 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 2ND 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    TAMPA BAY 0 1 1
    PITTSBURGH 1 1 2 END OF THE 2ND
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: PIT - JARKKO RUUTU 4 (BROOKS ORPIK, MAXIME TALBOT) 14:20
    2ND PRD: TAM - (PP) VINCENT LECAVALIER 40 (JUSSI JOKINEN, FILIP KUBA)
    4:18
    PIT - EVGENI MALKIN 42 (RYAN WHITNEY) 10:05
    SHOTS ON GOAL: 1ST 2

    Mar 20 9:01 PM


  • NHL
    TAMPA BAY 1
    PITTSBURGH 2
    2ND PRD: PIT - EVGENI MALKIN 42 (RYAN WHITNEY) 10:05

    Lightning 1, Penguins 2  2nd - 9:55Mar 20 8:43 PM


  • NHL
    TAMPA BAY 1
    PITTSBURGH 1
    2ND PRD: TAM - (PP) VINCENT LECAVALIER 40 (MARTIN ST. LOUIS, FILIP
    KUBA) 4:18

    Lightning 1, Penguins 1  2nd - 15:42Mar 20 8:36 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 1ST 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    TAMPA BAY 0 0
    PITTSBURGH 1 1 END OF THE 1ST
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: PIT - JARKKO RUUTU 4 (BROOKS ORPIK, MAXIME TALBOT) 14:20
    SHOTS ON GOAL: 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    TAM 8 8
    PIT 8 8
    GOALIES: TAM - MIKE SMITH
    PIT -

    Mar 20 8:12 PM


  • NHL
    TAMPA BAY 0
    PITTSBURGH 1
    1ST PRD: PIT - JARKKO RUUTU 4 (BROOKS ORPIK, MAXIME TALBOT) 14:20

    Lightning 0, Penguins 1  1st - 5:40Mar 20 8:04 PM
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