NHL Game Night: 3-14-10 Penguins at Lightning

The Pens get the benefit of the bounce.

PIT-2
TB-1

Antero Niittymaki allowed 2 goals on 39 shots for the loss. He certainly did everything he could to give the Lightning a chance to win and seems to be getting hot again. A hot Niitty is probably the only chance the Lightning have down the stretch.

First Period
NO SCORING

Second Period
TB 8:09, Lecavalier 20 (Fedoruk, Hedman)

Third Period
PIT 2:20, Dupuis 17 (Staal, Cooke)
PIT 5:17, Gonchar 10 (Crosby, Ponikarovsky)(PP)

The difference in the game was the goofy bounce Pittsburgh got on their first goal and the solid goaltending of Fleury in the first period. It makes you wonder though why this team could play poorly and lose in overtime against the worst team in the conference (Toronto) and then turn around and beat the best (Washington) and take the defending champs (Pittsburgh) to the brink. If they played with the same intensity they did in the first period of this game, they'd be sitting on 80-90 points in the standings already. That's frustrating in the near term, as this team's playoff chances are becoming slim. In the long term Lightning fans should take heart. A young team like this is going to figure that out, and have the chance to be an elite team when they do.

Congratulations to Vincent Lecavalier on his 10th straight 20 goal season. That's 10 straight seasons of excellence, no matter how you slice it.

Also, congratulations to Steven Stamkos for making Matt Cooke a stain on the ice during a third period power play. Now that's young leadership you can believe in.

Paul Szczechura had 2 penalty minutes, 2 shots, and 1 blocked shot in 13:01. He was also 56% on draws and almost had the first goal of the game on a 2-on-1 feed from Lecavalier that was turned aside by Fleury. I must apologize to Szczechura for missing that his last game against the Caps (3-12-10) marked his graduation from prospect status on Bolt Prospects. So, he got an extra night of coverage tonight so that we can extend congratulations to him on becoming a full-time NHLer with 41 and now 42 games played this season. He'll likely be the last graduate of the 2009/2010 class that included Downie, Hedman, and Wright already.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.