Penguins 2, Lightning 1

The Pittsburgh Penguins and Tampa Bay Lightning are far apart in

the Eastern Conference standings. It didn’t seem that way as they

treated a sellout crowd of 20,230 to a playoff atmosphere.

The aggression was evident in the opening moments of

Pittsburgh’s 2-1 victory Sunday when two of the NHL’s top three

goal scorers were shaken up.

On the first shift, Penguins captain Sidney Crosby became

entangled with Lightning winger Steve Downie and his knee bent

awkwardly as he crumpled to the ice. The league’s leading scorer

with 45 goals limped off, but he was back minutes later.

At first, Crosby was concerned that his knee might have been

seriously injured.

“There was a minute or two being pretty scared,” Crosby said.

He realized by the end of the period “it was more of a stinger,

and it didn’t really stick around a whole lot, but it was scary


Lightning center Steven Stamkos, only three goals behind Crosby,

also was shaken up in the opening minute after a hit by Brooks

Orpik sent him into the boards. Like Crosby, he played on.

The Penguins were down 1-0 early in the third period until

Pascal Dupuis and Sergei Gonchar scored in a 2:57 span. Gonchar

scored the winner on a power play at 5:17, blasting a slap shot

past Antero Niittymaki from just inside the blue line.

Lightning center Vincent Lecavalier opened the scoring with his

fifth goal in six games at 8:09 of the second period. Todd Fedoruk

carried the puck behind the Pittsburgh net and fed the Lightning

captain, skating in on Marc-Andre Fleury.

Lecavalier said both teams were motivated by the bipartisan

crowd, the largest of the season in Tampa.

“It gets you really fired up,” he said. “A lot of people

screaming and got the guys going. I think it was a great hockey


Dupuis tied it with a wrist shot 2:20 into the third, capping a

series of shots that had Niittymaki turned around. He has four

goals and three assists in seven games since the Olympic break.

Fleury made 21 saves. He needed to make only five in the third

period, including a dazzling stop on Lecavalier’s slap shot during

a Tampa Bay power play with 2:22 left.

“They played really hard right from the start, and they came at

us fast,” Fleury said of the Lightning.

Niittymaki finished with 37 saves.

“A comment in our dressing room after the game was that it felt

like a playoff game, and they played it with intensity,” Penguins

coach Dan Bylsma said. “They were strong on pucks and they were

making it hard. It wasn’t until the third where we really kind of

got pucks at the goalie and then converged on those


NOTES: Seven players in the game were first or second overall

selections in the NHL draft. The list includes Lecavalier, Stamkos

and D Victor Hedman of Tampa Bay, and Crosby, Fleury, C Evgeni

Malkin and C Jordan Staal of Pittsburgh. … Malkin suffered an

undisclosed injury late in the second period and did not return. He

will be reevaluated Monday. … C Zenon Konopka (back), LW Ryan

Malone (upper body) and D Matthias Ohlund (leg) were sidelined for

Tampa Bay. RW Eric Godard (groin) sat out for Pittsburgh along with

healthy scratches Alex Goligoski and Maxime Talbot.