The Lightning continue to pump the well but still find a way to come up empty.
Tampa Bay once again committed costly turnovers that allowed Pittsburgh to rally in the third period for a 4-3 victory on Monday at CONSOL Energy Center. The loss is the fifth in a row for the Lightning and sixth in their last seven games.
Monday marked the first time in eight times this season that Tampa Bay lost when leading entering the third period.
And the Bolts may have to move forward without goaltender Mathieu Garon, who left with a lower body injury early in the second period and was replaced by Anders Lindback. Lindback made 16 saves to suffer the loss as Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby scored third-period goals.
Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 25 shots to pick up the victory. James Neal added an empty net goal with 51.5 seconds left.
Tampa Bay received two goals from Steven Stamkos and one from Tom Pyatt, but once again a solid effort was thwarted by costly mistakes. Stamkos' second came with eight seconds left in the game.
Tampa Bay once again started out trailing early when Crosby outworked Stamkos along the boards before squirting out toward the slot area. He slipped a backhand pass to Chris Kunitz, who zipped a one-timer past Garon 4:13 into the game.
But the early goal didn’t really rattle the Lightning much as Tampa Bay killed off two Pittsburgh power plays in the period and had some quality chances, including B.J. Crombeen knocking a short-handed chance off the post at 15:54. The deficit for the Lightning remained at one goal into the first intermission.
After killing off an early Victor Hedman tripping call in the second period – including a key block by Matt Carle and a sliding save by Garon on Malkin at 1:23 – Garon was forced to the leave the game at the first stoppage after making a save on Malkin. After a few tests in the crease, Garon left under his own power 2:19 into the second period after stopping 12 of 13 shots.
Twenty seconds after Lindback came into the game, Stamkos tied the score with his league-leading 16th goal, setting up at the top of the crease to tap in a Victor Hedman pass at 2:39. Tampa Bay then took the lead midway through the period when rookie Ondrej Palat, making his NHL debut, protected the puck down low along the end boards and put the puck out into the top of the crease.
Nate Thompson then turned around to put a shot on frame that sailed up and deflected into the goal off the face of Tom Pyatt at 11:59.
The strong second period showing allowed the Lightning to take that one-goal lead into the final period. But the lead did not last long thanks to the Penguins' dynamic duo.
Malkin, in his first game back since missing four with a concussion, took advantage of an Eric Brewer turnover, cutting into the zone and putting a highlight move on Carle to cut inside and put the puck past Lindback at 5:38. Less than two minutes later, a turnover in the offensive zone allowed the Penguins to rush back the other way with numbers.
Tampa Bay ended up scrambling in its coverage, which allowed Crosby to find an open lane at the top of the crease area to easily one-time in a pass from Kris Letang at 7:29 to give Pittsburgh a 3-2 lead.
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