Tampa Bay at Pittsburgh

Stamkos keeps piling up goals (46), Lightning blank Penguins

CBSSports.com wire reports
  •  

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins didn't recognize some of the Tampa Bay players. Worse still, the Penguins didn't recognize their own game against an opponent they figured to beat.

Steven Stamkos scored his 46th goal to edge within one of NHL leader Sidney Crosby and the Lightning prevented Pittsburgh from gaining ground in the Eastern Conference race, beating the lethargic Penguins 2-0 on Wednesday.

Eastern Conference
SeedTeamGPPTSROW
1z-Pittsburgh487233
2y-Montreal486326
3y-Washington485724
4x-Boston486224
5x-Toronto485726
6x-N.Y. Rangers485622
7x-Ottawa485621
8x-N.Y. Islanders485520
Eliminated
9o-Winnipeg485122
10o-Philadelphia484922
11o-New Jersey484817
12o-Buffalo484814
13o-Carolina484218
14o-Tampa Bay484017
15o-Florida483612
Complete Playoff Race

Crosby and the Penguins couldn't find the net on a five-minute power play in the first period resulting from just-recalled defenseman Matt Lashoff's boarding penalty and went on to lose their fourth in six games after winning their previous two.

"It was pretty bad. There's no sugar coating it or trying to make something positive out of it, we didn't do anything that was positive," Crosby said. "We weren't ready to play. We thought we were going to play a team that laid down and isn't going to go to the playoffs, and we were just going to show up. Clearly, it didn't happen."

Clearly, coach Dan Bylsma wasn't happy, either. He called an 8:30 a.m. practice for Thursday, a previously scheduled day off.

The Penguins missed an opportunity to take a three-point lead in the Atlantic Division over idle New Jersey, losing to a team they had beaten in five of their previous six games. The Lightning had lost 14 of their previous 18 overall and were playing their second game in two nights after losing 3-2 in Columbus on Tuesday.

"With all due respect to them, there's a handful of guys I haven't even heard of," Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik said. "They've got nothing to play for and they come in and outwork us in our building. It's a little concerning."

Lightning goalie Mike Smith allowed at least four goals in each of his previous five games in which he played more than a handful of minutes -- and 22 overall in those five -- only to shut out the Penguins on 27 shots. Smith hadn't had a shutout since Dec. 5 against the Islanders, but he has two shutouts in six career games against Pittsburgh.

"It's been a long time since I got out and played the puck that much and had that swagger to my game," Smith said.

Martin St. Louis somehow missed a wide-open net in the first period, a few minutes after the Lightning killed off Lashoff's penalty for driving Ruslan Fedotenko into the boards, but later set up goals by Stamkos and Steve Downie.

"We really got a lot of momentum off that five-minute penalty kill," Stamkos said. "That's tough to go down for five minutes against a team like that."

Fedotenko was shaken up and briefly left the ice, but returned later in the period.

Stamkos put the Lightning up 1-0 with a power-play goal 17 minutes in the first, a one-timer from the left circle that goalie Marc-Andre Fleury couldn't stop. Stamkos tied Alex Ovechkin of Washington for second place in the NHL with his third goal in four games.

Can he catch and surpass the NHL's two biggest stars for the goal-scoring title?

"It's something that's obviously on your mind, you get asked about it a lot, so it would definitely be nice," Stamkos said. "We got five games left and whatever happens, happens."

Downie made it 2-0 only 29 seconds into the second period, taking St. Louis' giveback pass before snapping off a shot from the right circle for his 22nd goal. Stamkos got an assist, giving him 88 points.

The Penguins lead New Jersey 95-94 for the division lead and at least the No. 3 seeding in the conference playoffs. The Sabres passed by both teams and moved into second place in the conference by beating Florida 6-2, giving them 96 points.

Making it worse for the Penguins, Downie played a major role.

When the Penguins won 2-1 in Tampa on March 14, Downie dragged Crosby to the ice awkwardly with his legs early in the first period, with Crosby looking as if he might be seriously hurt, although he later returned to the game. Still, the play upset the Penguins, although there was no apparent retaliation.

Notes

  • The Penguins were 0 for 4 on the power play.
  • F Evgeni Malkin (bruised right foot) missed his fifth consecutive game and seventh in eight games, while D Sergei Gonchar (strep throat) sat out his fourth in a row.
  • Crosby failed to score a goal for the eighth time in nine games.
  • Pittsburgh hadn't been shut out in 35 games since a 2-0 loss at New Jersey on Dec. 30.
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
 
CBSSports Facebook Google Plus
COMMENTS
Conversation powered by Livefyre
Steven Stamkos (center) and teammates celebrate the only goal the Lightning actually need. (AP)
Steven Stamkos (center) and teammates celebrate the only goal the Lightning actually need. (AP)

Scoreboard
Tampa Bay  (31-34-12) «1102
Pittsburgh (44-26-7)0000
Three Stars
S. Stamkos
TB


Goals: 1
Assist(s): 1
M. St. Louis
TB


Goals: 0
Assist(s): 2
M. Smith
TB


Saves: 27
Save Pct.: 1.000
Scoring Summary
1ST PERIOD
17:00Power Play - Steven Stamkos (47), Slap Shot. Assist: St. Louis, Foster
2ND PERIOD
29.0Steve Downie (23), Slap Shot. Assist: St. Louis, Stamkos
3RD PERIOD
None
Penalty Summary
1ST PERIOD
02:22Lashoff, 5 min, Boarding
02:22Lashoff, 10 min, Game Misconduct
11:45Ponikarovsky, 2 min, Interference
14:40Kunitz, 2 min, Unsportsmanlike Conduct
14:40Thompson, 2 min, Unsportsmanlike Conduct
16:33Leopold, 2 min, Interference
18:02Fedoruk, 2 min, Bench - Too Many Men on the Ice
2ND PERIOD
01:59Cooke, 2 min, Roughing
06:46Smith, 2 min, Holding
12:51Guerin, 5 min, Fighting
12:51Konopka, 5 min, Fighting
18:45Stamkos, 2 min, Tripping
20:00Meszaros, 2 min, Roughing
20:00Guerin, 2 min, Roughing
3RD PERIOD
05:06Cooke, 2 min, High-Sticking
Shots On Goal
 123T
Tampa Bay66517
Pittsburgh99927
Goalies
GoalieMINSSGA
Mike Smith60:00270
Marc-Andre Fleury58:27152
Game Information
Attendance - 17132
Referees - Wes McCauley, Justin St. Pierre
Linesmen - Jonny Murray, Ryan Galloway
 
Other Games
Car 2 Final
Mon 1
Ana 5 Final
Colo 2
Fla 2 Final
Buf 6
SJ 1 Final
Dal 5
Pho 1 Final
Cal 2
Chi 4 Final
Min 0