The Penguins put a 6-2 pounding on the Tampa Bay Lightning Sunday evening. The scoreboard indicated a blowout, but things may have turned out differently on the ice.
If you want to know how this whole game went, just watch the final Pittsburgh power play. There were three major turnovers and very little zone time. Sidney Crosby turned it over at the offensive blue line and a Tampa player was almost away, but Sidney Crosby deftly recovered and got defensive position, allowing a team mate to take the puck back. This turned into a quick zone entry and a very high quality scoring chance created by speed. A few seconds later, Kris Letang turned it over to Ondrej Palat just outside the Pens blueline. I’m betting Palat wished it never happened because almost immediately Letang steam rolled him with a hit, knocked him flat on the ice and took the puck right back. This led to yet another fast break grade AAA chance. Finally, on the same power play, Nick Bonino turned it over at the offensive line in the same spot Crosby did. Somehow that turned into a Penguins barrage and Letang ended up scoring with 1 second left in the penalty.
That powerplay was horribly sloppy, yet there were at least three of the best scoring chances you’ll ever see at the NHL level and it ended with a goal. That’s the story of the game.
The Penguins wanted Tampa Bay to stay in it. Chris Kunitz took two needless slashing penalties, but he wasn’t alone. Malkin opened the game with a lazy hooking penalty. Then after the Pens started the third period with two quick goals to take a 4-1 stranglehold, Maatta took a high sticking penalty which allowed the Lightning to score and gain some hope. This doesn’t include a high stick by Steven Olesky that went uncalled, among others.
But both teams knew full well the Lightning weren’t going to win. It was almost like Rocky Balboa vs Clubber Lang. The Pens let their gloves drop down and allowed Tampa to get their shots. They left the seams open. But the counter pressure was relentless and unforgiving. When they turned it on they attacked in ferocious waves.
It took the fight right out of the Lightning. In a league where any hit draws a big crowd, when Letang hit Palat they didn’t even bat an eye. They were already on the plane.