Pen­guins can’t quite catch up to Light­ning

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - - High Schools / Hockey -

The Pen­guins cut the lead to one on three oc­ca­sions, but couldn’t find an equal­izer.

“I think we let them get out of range a cou­ple of times there,” said Conor Sheary, who scored his third goal of the sea­son on a break­away to make the score 3-2 mid­way through the sec­ond.

“When they went up, 5-3, es­pe­cially, that was a lit­tle bit of dag­ger for us. I thought we fought hard in the third, had a lot of scor­ing chances. We just weren’t able to put one in.”

In ad­di­tion to Sheary, Jake Guentzel, Bryan Rust and Matt Hun­wick found the net for the Pen­guins.

Coach Mike Sullivan said he thought his team’s fight and ef­fort was “ter­rific” as the game wore on, but that this was one of those games that turned into a track meet. The two teams com­bined for 74 shots on goal.

“We didn’t play as smart as we’ve been play­ing the last few games,” Sullivan said. “There was a lot of scor­ing chances on both sides. It seemed like it was a game where there wasn’t a whole lot of de­fense played on ei­ther side.”

Sheary ad­mit­ted it was a fun game to play in, even if it might cause his coaches some heart­burn.

“I don’t think it’s a game that a coach wants to see, but that’s kind of the style it was tonight,” he said. “There were [nearly] 40 shots a side and a lot of scor­ing chances each way.”

That meant a busy night for Pen­guins goalie Antti Niemi, mak­ing his sec­ond start with the team af­ter his first was the dis­as­ter in Chicago.

His num­bers weren’t great Thurs­day, with 29 saves on 34 shots, but Sullivan said he liked what he saw in his backup goalie.

“It ap­pears be­cause we gave up five goals that he didn’t play well, but he made some 10-bell saves,” Sullivan said.

Niemi, too, said he felt good about his per­for­mance.

“I see lots of pos­i­tive stuff in my game,” he said. “It’s not fun to give up five goals and lose a game, but there was lots of good things.”

Even if he wasn’t flaw­less, Niemi did give the Pen­guins a chance to steal a point late, as they put up a flurry of ac­tion in the wan­ing min­utes of the third af­ter Hun­wick made the score 5-4 with his first goal with the Pen­guins at 10:01 of the pe­riod.

“I think our ef­fort was def­i­nitely there,” Sheary said. “We were work­ing hard. We just needed one more bounce, one more shot. We didn’t get it tonight, but that’s how it goes.”

Chris O'Meara/As­so­ci­ated Press pho­tos

Pen­guins winger Conor Sheary and Tampa Bay Light­ning de­fense­man Dan Gi­rardi bat­tle for the puck in the first pe­riod.

Bryan Rust cel­e­brates with the Pen­guins bench af­ter his goal against Tampa Bay in the sec­ond pe­riod.

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