Penguins can’t quite catch up to Lightning
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.”
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.