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Penguins Vs. Lightning: Pens Fall To Tampa 5-3

Despite getting a career night from fourth-line forward Craig Adams, the Pens dropped a 5-3 contest in Tampa tonight.

Just 2:01 into the game, the Lightning struck first when Dana Tyrell scored his first career NHL goal. Pittsburgh would roar back when by completing the rare feat of scoring two goals while short-handed on the same penalty kill. Craig Adams struck first, then Adams and Kris Letang teamed up to get the puck to the net that Matt Cooke smacked home to give Pittsburgh a 2-1 lead.

Pascal Dupuis got out of the penalty box later in the first and Adams hit him with a beautiful pass for Dupuis to go back-hand and beat goalie Mike Smith.

The game turned when Tampa coach Guy Boucher pulled Smith and replaced him with Dan Ellis. Ellis would stop all 24 shots he saw and the Penguins would fail to score again.

Tampa would cut into the lead before the end of the first when Teddy Purcell shot against his body and used the players in front as a screen on Marc-Andre Fleury. The Bolts would tie it in the second during a five-on-three power play when Vincent Lecavalier, Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis moved the puck around and Lecavalier pulled the trigger on a shot.

They’d take the lead for good when St. Louis showed his top notch speed and blew by Ben Lovejoy and then beat Fleury on a breakaway. St. Louis would ice the game with an empty net goal in the dying moments.

What Went Right

-Craig Adams, who hadn’t scored a regular-season goal with the Pens in 98 career games, got a goal and two assists. Multi-point games are rare for Adams (his last was on Oct 12, 2008), but three points isn’t his high. He did that all the way back on March 10, 2003.

-Kris Letang seemingly dodged a major injury after a shot hit him in his hand/wrist area. Letang left the game briefly in the second but later returned and it didn’t affect his play.

What Went Wrong

-Blowing a 3-1 lead, on the road, is never good. The Pens were in control of this game and let it slip away.

-You’ll see what you want to see about Marc-Andre Fleury. The first goal was the result of Letang and Paul Martin both letting their guys free deep in the defensive zone. The second goal had four players in front of him blocking his view. He couldn’t stop St. Louis on a break that ended up being the game winner.

Then again, Fleury stopped a few two-on-ones, he denied Sven Bergenheim on a penalty shot, and made a handful of solid saves late in the game.

So if you want to see Fleury as the culprit, you have your evidence. If you want to blame the defense and the team for hanging him out to dry, there’s plenty of that too.

Injury Report

-Jordan Staal practices daily, but still has much work to do with his conditioning before returning.

-Zbynek Michalek is back to practice and could be day-to-day.

Photographs by dizfunk used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.