Sidney Crosby collected his eighth career and helped the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the talented Tampa Bay Lightning 5-4 last night in Florida. Like a double bacon cheeseburger, this showdown had everything that's amazing in it. Sways of momentum, big stars scoring big goals, and a dash of controversy. By far and away, the best show the pens have out on this season.
Crosby's first goal came in the second and tied the game. But another NHL superstar, Steven Stamkos, took the momentum away with a beautiful tic-tack-toe tally three minutes later. Brooks Orpik re-tied the game with a tip in off a Pascal Dupuis shot (his first regular season goal since 2011) but that was answered by a Teddy Purcell redirect. To answer Maximus's question . . . yes, after that second period, we are entertained.
Then Sidney Crosby took over. Twenty-five seconds into the third period, The Kid ties the game (again) off a another redirect. Ten minutes later, Jussi Jokinen and Evgeni Malkin put on a passing clinic that ended with Sid's third goal, a powerplay strike. It was the first time in the game the Penguins took the lead.
On scoring dirty goals (which the game was loaded with), Crosby said, "Pucks are going to be around there. It's not an easy place to go, and you're going to have to force yourself to go there as much as you can. Luckily there were some pucks around there, and I was able to get some good quality chances from there."
Now the fun started. Steven Stamkos broke his skate and in a head-scratching move, the referee helped Stamkos get to his bench. The play should've been blow dead (like for an injured player) but Stamkos's replacement on the ice, Alex Killorn, skated around a confused Pens bunch and put one pass Fleury. Three minutes remained on the clock.
The makeup call (and the pens were due for one) came in the form of a Richard Panik trip with a minute to left in regulation.
Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper on the penalty, "The last one? To be honest, I think we all saw it. Did our guy give them a chance to call a penalty? He did. The guy, whoever it was, went down pretty easy. So, I don't know. It's on our guy, because he gave the ref the chance to make the call, so he's going no matter what. It's the ref's decision there, and now he has to make the call. Did the guy embellish it? In that situation, the ref decided he did."
Merited or not, Matt Niskanen made the Lightning pay as his slapshot went pass Linbach and won the game for the Penguins, 5-4. Crosby finished the night with the hat trick and a assist while Geno, Jokinen, and Kunitz had a pair of helpers themselves.
Crosby, who has nine points in five games, said of Niskanen's game-winner, "It was just there. The middle of the ice was taken away. They took away a couple options, took away (Jokinen), Geno and myself. That lane was there. Nisky has a great shot, right-hand shot, one-timer and he took advantage of it."
The Penguins play the Edmonton Oilers Tuesday.
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