NHL Game Day: 3-22-14 Lightning at Penguins

When you play the Pens, you play 5-on-7.

TB-3
PIT-4 (OT)

Anders Lindback allowed 4 goals on 29 shots for the OT loss. I feel bad for the young man. He was sharp and made some sparkling saves to give the Lightning an opportunity to win this game. In fact, I'd say he was doing his best Ben Bishop impression all game. And then the refs just kept gifting power plays to the Pens, hanging him out to dry.

First Period
NO SCORING

Second Period
5:29 PIT Crosby (34), (Malkin, Zatkoff)(PP)
16:44 TB Filppula (24), (Stamkos, Hedman)(PP)

Third Period
8:17 TB Stamkos (20), (Killorn, Gudas)
11:07 PIT Malkin (22), (Niskanen, Crosby)(PP)
16:43 PIT Malkin (23), (Jokinen)
18:38 TB Palat (19), (Gudas, Carle)

Overtime
1:27 PIT Neal (23), (Malkin, Crosby)(PP)

Steven Stamkos was the game's third star. He was beastly today. He looked like he's clearly past the injury and back to being hell bent on proving he's the best player in the game today. He was excellent.

If you want to look on the bright side, I think the Lightning made a statement today. They've been pulling out wins against bad teams and proving they deserve to be in the playoffs, but I think today they asserted to the league that they are a team fully capable of doing damage when they get there. They went toe to tow with one of the two elite teams in the conference and gave them all they could handle. Were the officiating right down the middle, who knows what might've happened.

But, you know, it wasn't. The referees really gift wrapped two goals for the Pens in this game, which was infuriating. The "slashing" call they gave to Killorn for blade on blade stick contact on Malkin was an absolute joke. Prior to Tyler Johnson's terrible turnover that allowed the Pens to take the lead in the Third Period, you had an obvious interference call perpetrated on Filppula go uncalled. And then, in Overtime, the kill shots came on a borderline too many men call followed up by a uncalled Crosby interference on Tyler Johnson off the faceoff moments before Neal's winning goal. The joke of this league is that you know going into games against certain teams that they'll get every borderline call and even a few they outright don't deserve. You can call it before the game. And right now, at the top of that list, there's the Pittsburgh Penguins. It's rough when you're out there having to compete against 5 very talented hockey players and 2 less-than-above-board referees. Impossible on many nights, in fact.

All of which should not dampen Lightning fans appreciation of the amazing individual effort Ondrej Palat put in to tie the game at 3-3 and get the team the point today. Nothing against Tyler Johnson, but if you held a gun to my head all season, Ondrej is the one I'd be promoting for the Calder Trophy. He's been the truth in all three zones this season, and that highlight reel goal today likely exposed him to a lot more people around the league.

Mike Kostka had 2 shots, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 18:04. When you play against the Pens, arguably the scariest offensive team in the league, and you hold your own, that's proof you belong.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.