Just One Of Those Days, Lightning Fall To Penguins 3-0
The Tampa Bay Lightning fell to the Pittsburgh Penguins by a final score of 3-0. It was the Lightnings 8th consecutive loss to the Penguins a streak which dates back to November 17, 2011. The loss also ends the Lighting’s seven game home winning streak and their record falls to 16-9-1 (33 points) as the Penguins improve to 17-9-1 (35 points).
After the game coach Jon Cooper said “It was a good hockey game, the only thing bad about the game is that we lost.” The Lighting fell behind at the 6:53 mark of the first period on Chris Kunitz‘s 12th goal of the season with assist to Sidney Crosby (21) and Kris Letang (4). The game remained scoreless until the 8:27 mark of the 3rd period when Brandon Sutter scored his 5th goal (power play) with assists to Sidney Crosby (22) and Jussi Jokinen (9).
Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury notched his 26th career shutout and 3rd of the the season with 21 saves and first shutout since November 20th against the Washington Capitals (18 saves).
If their is a belief that the Lightning need to notch a victory against the Penguins as a sort of mental stepping stone it is not one held by Coach Jon Cooper. “You watch how we’ve played these games [against the Penguins] and anybody can win these games.” Cooper said. “So I think we’ve taken huge steps. I like the fact that our guys were pissed off in the room that we lost the game.” The Penguins are a good team but not a division rival, “I wouldn’t say Pittsburgh has our number or anything like that, their were two good hockey teams, they just happened to come out on top.”
Sidney Crosby had three assists in the game but Coach Cooper felt that Tyler Johnson and his line did an excellent job of holding the line at bay. “We made one little mistake and they knew it.” Jon Cooper said. “I’m sure they’ll know when you’re playing against a world class line like that there’s no room for error.”
“That was probably the biggest challenge of my life.” said Johnson after the game. “Obviously their world class players and it was a lot of fun playing against them. We let in a goal there so obviously we want to take that away from them but I thought we played pretty well besides that.”
He was especially excited by the challenge presented to his line. “We like the challenge, we like to be relied upon out there. It’s nice to know he [Coach Cooper] has faith in us out there to play against players like that and it makes us better players. I know I’m a better player at the end of the game than I was at the start playing against those guys.”
Johnson, echoing his coach said that “I don’t think the score reflects how close that game really was. They got that one goal on that 3 on 2 break, another on a PP (power play) that was kind of a flukey goal just off our own skates, and the empty netter. I thought we played very well, obviously there a great team, but I thought it was a great hockey game tonight.”