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game recap

Lightning 2, Penguins 0

Wednesday, 08.06.2014 / 4:46 AM

Associated Press

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Lightning 2, Penguins 0
Tampa Bay Lightning 2, Pittsburgh Penguins 0

PITTSBURGH (AP) -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 night.

Crosby and the Penguins couldn't find the net on a 5-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 5-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.

scoring summary
1st Period
PPG - Steven Stamkos (46) ASST: Martin St. Louis (62), Kurtis Foster (30)
1 - 0 TBL
2nd Period
Steve Downie (22) ASST: Martin St. Louis (63), Steven Stamkos (42)
2 - 0 TBL
3rd Period
penalty summary
1st Period
Matt Lashoff  Boarding (maj) against  Ruslan Fedotenko
Matt Lashoff  Game misconduct against  Ruslan Fedotenko
Alexei Ponikarovsky  Interference against  Vincent Lecavalier
Chris Kunitz  Unsportsmanlike conduct against  Nate Thompson
Nate Thompson  Unsportsmanlike conduct against  Chris Kunitz
Jordan Leopold  Interference against  Steve Downie
Todd Fedoruk  Too many men/ice - bench
2nd Period
Matt Cooke  Roughing against  Paul Szczechura
Mike Smith  Holding against  Mike Rupp
Zenon Konopka  Fighting (maj) against  Bill Guerin
Bill Guerin  Fighting (maj) against  Zenon Konopka
Steven Stamkos  Tripping against  Chris Kunitz
Andrej Meszaros  Roughing against  Bill Guerin
Bill Guerin  Roughing against  Andrej Meszaros
3rd Period
Matt Cooke  Hi-sticking against  Martin St. Louis
goalie stats
Mike Smith
Mike Smith
SA: 27TOI: 60:00
Saves: 27EV: 19 - 19
PIM: 2PP: 6 - 6
SV%: 1.000SH: 2 - 2
Marc-Andre Fleury
SA: 17TOI: 58:27
Saves: 15EV: 12 - 13
PIM: 0PP: 2 - 3
SV%: .882SH: 1 - 1