Streaking Lightning holds off potent Penguins

by Gary Shelton on February 7, 2020

in general

Vasilevskiy stops Crosby on the way to his 28th win./CHUCK MULLER

Friday, 4 a.m.

The streaking Tampa Bay Lightning doesn't seem to care who it plays these days. It just keeps rolling.

The Bolts beat a talented Pittsburgh Penguins team Thursday night, 4-2, to keep winning. it was their eighth straight home win.

The Bolts are now 34-15-5 on the season. They're 23-0 when giving up two goals or fewer.

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Stamkos celebrates his 25th win./CHUCK MULLER

It isn't just the team at large that is streaking. It's their stars, as well.

-- Goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy set a franchise record with a point in his 17th consecutive game. He stopped 29 shots and won his 28th game of the season.

"He's the best goaltender in the league," said Victor Hedmam.

"He's the best goaltender in the world," said Mikhail Sergachev.

-- Forward Steven Stamkos scored his 12th goal in his last 20 games. He's a plus-27 over that streak.

Cirelli is tripped by Penguins goalie Murray./CHUCK MULLER

-- Forward Nikita Kucherov scored a goal and had an assist. He's now plus-26 over the last 20 games.

And the talk of underperforming has been chased away by Tampa Bay. In Pittsburgh, the Bolts beat the second-place team from the Metropolitan Division, one that features Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang.

"I loved our first," said Lightning coach Jon Cooper. "We got out to a 2-0 lead and now you're making  them chase it. I didn’t mind our second. The turning point in that periods the fact that (Anthony) Cirellii scored right after they did. The third -- the positive things were that our penalty kill was awesome. Our goaltender was tremendous. But we took too many penalties. We were down five-on-three for a minute and a half."

In all, the Lightning penalty kill faced five shorthanded situations and killed them all.

For the Lightning, Sergachev and Steven Stamkos gave the team a 2-0 lead in the first period. It was Stamkos' 25th goal of the season.

Thirty-two seconds after Malkin scored to bring the Penguins back to within a goal, Cirelli scored for a 3-1 lead. Nikita Kucherov scored his 25th goal in the third period on an empty netter.

Ryan McDonagh left the game in the second period after taking a shot off of his ankle. It was the second straight game the Bolts have lost a defenseman.

The Lightning plays against the New York Islanders Saturday night at 7 p.m. at Amalie Arena.

Kucherov celebrates his 25th goal on an empty-netter./CHUCK MULLER

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