Lightning loses again as Penguins take charge

by Gary Shelton on November 26, 2017 · 2 comments

in general

Palat and Stralman celebrate a goal./CARMEN MANDATO

Palat and Stralman celebrate a goal./CARMEN MANDATO

Sunday, 2 a.m.

The slump you have worried about all season, evidently, is here. Suddenly, the Tampa Bay Lightning is mortal.

The Lightning lost its second straight game and its third in four games Saturday night in Pittsburgh. The Bolts lost a 5-2 game, falling behind 3-0 after one period.

Tampa Bay gave up a short-handed goal in the first period to Bryan Rust, the second short-handed goal the team has given up all season. After that, the Penguins scored twice on 5-on-3 power plays to Phil Kessel and Sidney Crosby.

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Kessel scored again 2:22 into the second period to make it 4-0.

Lightning coach Jon Cooper said that special teams were the difference in the game.

“It was the difference in the game," Cooper said. "You give up three 5-on-3 goals and a shorty, I don’t know how many times you can come back from that. So, that was tough for us.”

Cooper was asked about starting faster.

“I don’t know what their coach said, but I look back and we were, I thought, the better team in the first period," Cooper said. "It was unfortunate to give up the shorty, but it’s a 1-0 game. Going down 5-on-3, those are tough. You can sit here and debate whether we should have been down or not. The ref made the call.

"We had pucks on our stick to clear. We didn’t get it down. We get that one puck down, and who knows? Maybe we kill this off. All of a sudden, it ends up in the back of the net, they’ve got momentum, another one goes in and it’s too bad. It’s too bad for (Budaj) because he’s been doing well for us, and we just kind of put him in a tough spot.”

The three-goal defeat is tied for the largest this season for the Lighthing.

Goaltender Peter Budaj fell to 1-2-1 on the season. He stopped 29 of 34 shots.

The Lightning got its goals from Ondrej Palat, his seventh, and Cory Conoacher, his first of the season.

Tampa Bay scored on just one of six power plays.

Tampa Bay now moves to Buffalo to face the Sabres on Tuesday at the Keybank Center. The puck drops at 7 p.m.

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