NHL Game Summary - Pittsburgh at Tampa Bay
(Tuesday, April 7th)
Final Score: Pittsburgh 6, Tampa Bay 4
Tampa, FL (Sports Network) - Sidney Crosby scored twice and Petr Sykora helped stem a late Lightning comeback with the eventual game-winner, as Pittsburgh held off Tampa Bay for a 6-4 win at St. Pete Times Forum.
Jordan Staal had a goal and two assists and Ruslan Fedotenko added a goal and assist for the Penguins, who rebounded from back-to-back losses. The win provided two points they could barely afford to give away, as they clinched a playoff spot.
"We worked hard over the last six weeks to get ourselves back on track here and get back in the picture," said Crosby of the team rebounding to make the playoffs after Dan Bylsma replaced Michel Therrien behind the bench in February. "We'll try to keep building. It's a long ways to go and it doesn't get any easier now."
With 95 points, Pittsburgh is sixth in the Eastern Conference and pulled three points clear of Montreal, which dropped a 3-1 decision to the Rangers earlier Tuesday. Both the Penguins and Canadiens have two games left, the second one being a matchup Saturday against each other. Pittsburgh is also two points shy of Philadelphia and Carolina.
Marc-Andre Fleury made 33 saves to get the win and Evgeni Malkin posted two assists, giving him 110 points this season. He is attempting to hold onto the NHL points lead over Washington's Alex Ovechkin, who also had two assists Tuesday and has 108 points.
Crosby scored his 31st and 32nd goals of the season, moving him to 101 points on the year, his third career 100-point season. He joined Malkin as the Penguins' first 100-point scorers in the same season since Mario Lemieux (161 points) and Jaromir Jagr (149 points) haunted NHL goaltenders during the 1995-96 season.
Jeff Halpern tallied twice for the Lightning, who are second from the bottom in the Eastern Conference and have lost their last seven games. Karri Ramo allowed five goals on 30 shots in defeat.
Martin St. Louis collected his 30th goal of the season and Paul Szczechura logged a goal and assist in the loss.
Following a scoreless opening period, Pittsburgh scored three times in the second to take control.
Fedotenko's backhander at the left side of the net came five minutes in, and was set up off a feed from Staal behind the goal.
The Pens then cashed in on a pair of power-play opportunities.
Crosby blasted a one-timer from the low right circle off a cross-ice feed from Malkin to make it 2-0 at 10:08.
Chris Kunitz then fed Crosby for a partial breakaway after getting behind the Tampa Bay defense, faking Ramo to the ice before snapping the disc into the top left corner just 1:04 later.
Matt Cooke cleaned up in front to make it a 4-0 game just 1:08 into the third after Staal fired into a host of bodies cluttering the crease.
The Lightning benefited from a mistake by Fleury to crack the scoreboard while shorthanded at 4:31. A Tampa Bay dump-in was cut off and left at the right side of the net for a Pens' defender, but Szczechura intercepted and dished back to Halpern for the score.
St. Louis then found the back of the net at 8:59 with a shot from the low right circle, and just 44 seconds later, Szczechura picked up a long rebound in the slot. He fired into the top right corner past a lunging Fleury, and suddenly the Lightning were within one.
"I thought we battled, being down four goals. Unfortunately they got that fifth goal," said St. Louis.
A Tampa Bay turnover at the blue line moments later sent Fedotenko streaking toward Ramo on a breakaway. Ramo saved the initial snap shot but Sykora followed the play and was in position to put back the rebound for his 300th career goal and 25th this season.
Brandon Bochenski muscled his way to the net off an offensive zone draw and got off a shot that Halpern followed to score with 40.6 ticks remaining, but Staal sealed it with an empty-net goal shortly thereafter.
Pittsburgh had lost three straight road games and improved to 19-15-6 away from the Igloo this year...The Pens will host the New York Islanders on Thursday...The Lightning have also dropped 10 of 11 and 14 of their last 17 games...Pittsburgh took three of four from the Lightning this year and has won five of the six encounters overall. The Pens have also won four straight in Tampa.
04/08 01:24:54 ET