(Tampa, FL) The Tampa Bay Lightning ended the first half of the NHL season and began the new year on a high note with a 3-1 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins this afternoon in Tampa, FL. The loss is the fourth in a row for the current Stanley Cup champions.
Martin St. Louis opened the scoring in the Bolts 41st game at a minute and three seconds into the game when he backhanded the puck past Pens goalie Marc-Andre Fleury for his 9th goal of the season. “It felt like a playoff game”, said St. Louis. “I tried to set the tone. We knew we were going against Crosby and the Penguins. I was in the right place at the right time.”
Pittsburgh’s Bill Guerin tied the game at 1-1 at 17:15 when he flipped a backhander past goalie Mike Smith for his 13th goal of the season. After that Smitty shut down the black and white birds stopping 25 of 26 shots including 3 man advantage opportunities for the Penguins who came into the game with the NHL’s worst power play.
Zenon Konopka poked in a rebound in a scramble in front of the Pittsburgh net for his 2nd goal of the season to give the Bolts a 2-1 lead at 14:26 of the second period.
Steve Downie made it 3-1 when he fired a wrist shot from the near circle into the top of the net at 7:11 of the third period for his 8th tally of the year.
Vinnie Lecavalier had a penalty shot in the game which was denied by Marc- Andre Fleury.
The win puts the Lightning one game over .500 with a 16-15-10 record and 42 points in a battle for the 8th spot in the Eastern Conference with Atlanta, Philadelphia and the NY Islanders all within 2 points of each other.
Next up: At Buffalo Sabres January 6th.
Lightning Left Wing Ryan Malone got the good news yesterday after the NHL Winter Classic in Fenway Park that he was selected to the U.S. Olympic team which begins competition next month in Vancouver.
Today’s game was their 41st marking the halfway point of the NHL season.
Attendance today: 20,109 including a large contingent of Pittsburgh Penguin fans.
Bright House Cable customers got a reprieve when Time Warner and Fox reached an agreement on December 31st which will keep Lightning games on Sun Sports and Fox Sports Florida in those households.
Bolts begin a 3 game road trip January 6th in Buffalo vs. the Sabres, Jan. 8th in New Jersey vs. the Devils and Jan. 9th in Philadelphia against the Flyers before returning home on Jan. 12th against the Washington Capitals.