|Date of game: 1/2/2015
Recap: Pittsburgh vs. Tampa Bay
Pittsburgh, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Sidney Crosby had four assists and the Pittsburgh Penguins extended their home winning streak over the Tampa Bay Lightning to nine games with a 6-3 victory on Friday night.
Steve Downie returned to score twice for Pittsburgh after missing the last five games because of the mumps and Evgeni Malkin, Chris Kunitz, Andrew Ebbett and Christian Ehrhoff also found the net in the team's second consecutive win after four straight losses.
Thomas Greiss also played for the first time since contracting the mumps last month and made 32 saves.
"We got some more guys back. I think that gave us a boost," said Crosby. "Hopefully we can feed off that and keep playing the right way."
Brian Boyle, Victor Hedman and Alex Killorn scored for Tampa Bay, which had a four-game winning streak snapped.
Pittsburgh moved ahead of Tampa Bay for first place in the Eastern Conference with 53 points. Montreal tied the Lightning for first place in the Atlantic with a win over New Jersey on Friday.
The Lightning have been outscored 48-19 while losing all nine games they have played at Consol Energy Center, which opened in 2010. Their last win in Pittsburgh came March 31, 2010.
It was an interesting day for the Penguins, who dealt forward Rob Klinkhammer and a 2015 first-round draft pick to Edmonton for forward David Perron.
Pittsburgh coach Mike Johnston confirmed that Malkin and teammate Craig Adams were involved in a scrap during practice earlier Friday in which punches were thrown.
"Small fight, but nothing bad," Malkin said after the game. "We talked after practice."
Much of the game was played with three officials after referee Mike Leggo vomited on the ice during the first period and skated off with what the NHL said was an illness. Play was stopped for several minutes while the ice was cleaned.
The Penguins took a 3-0 lead after just 13:39 to chase Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop, who faced just 10 shots. Evgeni Nabokov gave up two goals on 18 shots after that.
"You can't give a team like that a three-goal lead and expect to win," said Lightning captain Steven Stamkos.
Still, Pittsburgh had to fight off two Tampa Bay rallies to secure the win.
Tampa Bay defenseman Anton Stralman was sent off for tripping just 1:36 into the first period and Pittsburgh scored 20 seconds later when Kunitz buried a rebound behind Bishop from beside the net as he was being shoved to the ice.
Five minutes later, the horn sounded prematurely after Malkin clanked a shot off the goal post. Amid the distraction, Ebbett flipped a backhand over Bishop's glove for his first goal since March 14, 2013, with Vancouver.
Bishop was pulled after letting a rebound trickle off his pads to the other side of the crease, where Malkin hammered it in to make it 3-0.
Later, Boyle got Tampa Bay on the board with 4:49 left in the first, scoring from in front of the crease after Ondrej Palat used his skate to stop Matthew Carle's sharp pass from behind the net.
Hedman pulled the Lightning within 3-2 at 12:48 of the second period, but Ehrhoff restored Pittsburgh's two-goal advantage just over four minutes later on a slap shot from the point.
Killorn's goal 11:18 into the third period again brought the Lightning within one after he fought off defenseman Simon Despres down the right side and took the puck across the crease to beat a sprawled Greiss.
But Downie countered for Pittsburgh just 34 seconds later, waiting out Victor Hedman as the defenseman went to the ice to stop a potential shot, then firing a wrister past Nabokov from the left circle. Downie cored his second goal into an empty net in the final seconds.
It was the third game between the teams in 19 days. The Penguins earned a 4-2 win in Pittsburgh on Dec. 15 and the Lightning carried a 4-3 decision in Tampa Bay on Dec. 23, snapping a 10-game losing streak in the series. They will not face each other again this season.Game Notes
Ebbett recorded two points on his 32nd birthday ... The Lightning continue a
four-game road trip on Sunday in Ottawa ... The Penguins continue a four-game
homestand on Saturday against Montreal.