TAMPA, Fla. — The surging Tampa Bay Lightning are piling up goals and victories.
“I think we all believe that we have a pretty good offence when we’re rolling,” Johnson said. “I don’t know if we’ve seen that throughout the entire season, but for this last streak I think the offence has been alive.”
The Lightning have scored three or more goals in eight of the past 11 games.
Patric Hornqvist, Sidney Crosby and Matt Cullen scored for the Penguins, who had a four-game winning streak end and lost in regulation for just the fourth time in 18 games (10-4-4). Marc-Andre Fleury was pulled midway through the second after allowing four goals on 14 shots and replaced by Jeff Zatkoff.
“A little bit of trying to alter the flow,” Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan said of removing Fleury. “The goals that went in were, I think, high-quality chances. I was trying to change the momentum of the game.”
Crosby moved within one point of becoming the 106th NHL player to reach 900 points. If he gets the point in his next two games, Crosby will become the 10th-fastest to the milestone.
Penguins centre Evgeni Malkin is dealing with a lower-body injury and didn’t play. The team’s leading scorer will also sit out Saturday’s game at Florida and will be re-evaluated early next week.
After getting outshot 10-1, the Lightning tied it at 1 when Stralman scored on Tampa Bay’s second shot of the first period at 11:50.
Tampa Bay went ahead 2-1 on its fifth and final shot in the first on Killorn’s redirection with 1:26 left.
“It’s discouraging,” Sullivan said. “We played the right way for the most part and we don’t get rewarded for it. That happens sometimes. We have to find a way to stay the course.”
Tampa Bay’s Ben Bishop stopped 11 of 12 Pittsburgh shots during the first. Bishop finished with 27 saves.
“Credit to them, they came out hard,” Johnson said. “I think we kind of got lucky that we were able to get a lead there. Good teams find a way to win.”
Palat made it 3-1 on a short-handed breakaway goal at 6:04 of the second. Palat also scored with 4:05 to play before Stralman added an empty-netter.
After Crosby extended his goals streak to five consecutive games and his points streak to nine with his goal 8:04 into the second, Johnson’s power-play goal 1:11 later put Tampa Bay up 4-2.
Cullen cut the Penguins’ deficit to one at 4-3 just 55 seconds into the third.
Hornqvist opened the scoring at 4:53 of the first off a pass from Chris Kunitz, who picked up his 300th NHL assist.
NOTES: Malkin has 19 goals and 42 points in 31 games against Tampa Bay. … Crosby has 14 goals and 41 points over 30 games against the Lightning. … Bishop beat Pittsburgh for the first time. He entered 0-2-0 with a 4.93 goals-against-average in five previous meetings. … Lightning captain Steven Stamkos had two assists.