-This is an odd game to examine beforehand primarily due to the timing of it. The Penguins had a late practice last night due to the holiday and are playing a late afternoon game less than 24 hours later.
-This probably won't be nearly as run-and-gun of a game as the last time these two met Oct. 26, primarily due to injures on Tampa Bay's side. The Lightning is playing without some serious offensive firepower in the form of Steven Stamkos and Ryan Malone. The Penguins are without Paul Martin and Beau Bennett. We're not expecting a 1-0 game but we're not holding out hope for a 5-4 barnburner either.
-Kris Letang obviously needs to level off.
-We're eager to see how the Penguins' new third line looks in their second game. We're always hesitant to put too much weight into a player or group of players in their first game when they get a call-up. Chris Conner and Andrew Ebbett were good against the Maple Leafs Wednesday, but how much of that was adrenaline?
Ebbett became the 22nd player to wear No. 25. The previous No. 25s are:
Bill Speer, Robin Burns, John Stewart, Darryl Edestrand, Nick Beverly, Dennis Owchar, Greg Redquest, Tom Cassidy, Tom Price, Randy Carlyle, Kevin McCarthy, Ted Nolan, Norm Schmidt, Alek Stojanov, Dan Kesa, Jeff Norton, Kevin Stevens, Marc Bergevin, Maxime Talbot, Eric Tangradi.
-Kevin Stevens would be the obvious choice as the best player in that group.
-We're eager to see how Marc-Andre Fleury responds to a quick hook in Wednesday's game against the Maple Leafs. He had not been particularly sharp in the previous two games. Perhaps being pulled against Toronto will give him a "reset."
-Ben Bishop has had a fine season and has put himself into the conversation for the United States Olympic team, but the Penguins seem to normally pick him apart.
-At what point does Martin St. Louis get revered in the way Jaromir Jagr or Teemu Selanne does? He won a scoring title for the second time in his career last season at the age of 37. Yes, Sidney Crosby's jaw injury opened the way for St. Louis to claim it, but it's still pretty impressive. Considering St. Louis' start in the NHL as an undrafted rookie, his career is nothing short of spectacular. While he doesn't have quite the same longevity as Jagr and Selanne who were playing in the early 1990s, St. Louis' career should be held in a similar esteem in our book.
-Long-time EN reader Dean Gething is at the game. He spotted some friendlies at a tailgate:
-It looks like a lovely day at the barn:
-The Penguins' starters are Sidney Crosby, Pascal Dupuis, Chris Kunitz, Deryk Engelland, Brooks Orpik and Marc-Andre Fleury.
-Their scratches are Robert Bortuzzo and Brooks Orpik.
-The Lightning's starters are Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat, Richard Panik, Victor Hedman, Sami Salo and Ben Bishop.
-It's scratches are Keith Aulie and Radko Gudas.
18:58: Andrej Suster chops a slapper from the right half wall. Fleury steers it away.
17:57: Corralling a puck at the right point, Niskanen booms a slapper from the right point. Bishop fights it off.
16:27: Letang chucks a wrister from the right point wide on the near side.
16:06: A puck hits off the boards and slides to Letang at the right point. Letang whacks a one-timer wide of the cage on the far side.
15:31: Off a feed from Valtteri Filppula, Matt Carle rips a wrister from above the left circle. It hits a body in the slot.
14:26: Teddy Purcell tries to rip a wrister from the slot but Simon Despres closes in on him and steals the puck with a nice stick on puck.
13:39: Craig Adams tries to tuck in a forehand shot from the right of the net. Bishop holds it out.
13:22: After Pascal Dupuis drives to the cage off the right wing, the puck slides to Crosby in the slot. Crosby rips it quickly but puts it wide to the left o fthe cage.
13:07: The first line strikes early. From the neutral one, Letang deals a pass to Kunitz on the left wing. Kunitz gains the offensive zone and snaps off a cross-ice pass to Crosby. From the right circle, Crosby zips it back to Kunitz in the left circle. Kunitz is able to lift a wrister by the blocker of Bishop on the near side. What a series of passes. Crosby and Letang get assists. Penguins 1, Lightning 0.
12:49: The "new" jersey rule finally strikes the Penguins. Malkin is called for delay of game on account of an equipment violation as he has the back of his jersey tucked into his pants. He's gotten away with it most of the season. It's a two minute minor. Adams, Sutter, Brooks Orpik and Letang take the ice.
12:24: Sami Salo, who has one of the hardest shots in the NHL, whacks a one-timer from the left point. Adams flops down to block it and is hobbled a bit.
12:04: J.T. Brown booms a heavy slapper from the right circle. Fleury boots it out.
10:49: The puck is loose in the right corner. Olli Maatta whacks it down ice to clear the defensive zone a kill off the rest of Malkin's minor.
9:19: Off a feed by Filppula, Brewer whacks a one-timer from the right point. Fleury boots it out.
7:24: Off a neutral zone steal by Conner, Neal rips a sizzling wrister from the left circle over the cage.
6:27: Play is halted as Orpik hits Dana Tyrell into the left wing corner of the Penguins' zone and a door on the boards opens up by accident.
5:55: The Penguins get their first power play as Tyrell is called for high sticking Engelland. Malkin, Crosby, Kunitz, Neal and Letang take the ice.
5:30: A turnover by Letang off a risky spin pass at the right point results in a Crosby turnover in the neutral zone and and short-handed scoring chance for the Lightning. Letang is able to hustle back and break it up.
4:15: Maatta whacks a slapper from the left point. Thompson blocks it.
4:04: Jokinen rips a wrister from the right circle. Carle leans down to block it.
3:56: As the Tyrell minor expires, Engelland pops a slapper from the right point. Bishop kicks it out.
2:45ish: As Root Sports' game clock goes dark, Conner (5-foot-8) motors up the left wing one-on-one against Victor Hedman (6-foot-6). He tries to cut inside but the much larger Hedman pokes the puck off Conner's stick easily.
1:16: A wrister by Malkin is denied by Bishop.
0:37: Engelland whacks a one-timer from the right point wide.
0:08: Off a feed from behind the cage by Sutter, Conner taps a puck wide from the left of the net.
0:00: End of period. Penguins 1, Lightning 0.
-That was an odd period to get a feel for. Both teams seemed a little hesitant or flat. There really wasn't much sustained momentum on either side.
-The rule Malkin was penalized for was silly. But his failure to follow that rule was even sillier. It put his team in a bad position.
-The Penguins' defensive pairings appear to be:
3 Olli Maatta - 58 Kris Letang
44 Brooks Orpik - 5 Deryk Engelland
47 Simon Despres - 2 Matt Niskanen
-Fleury looked much sharper than he has the previous three games.
-The Lightning has a 7-5 lead in shots on net.
-The Lightning has a 20-14 lead in attempted shots.
-Brewer leads the game with two shots.
-Hedman leads the game with 8:11 of ice time.
-Orpik leads the Penguins with 7:07.
-The Lightning has a 9-7 edge in faceoffs (56 percent).
-Filppula is 4 for 5 (80 percent).
-Crosby is 3 for 6 (50 percent).
-Orpik leads the game with two blocked shots.
19:04: Off a little feed by Kunitz from the left wing, Dupuis uncorks a big wrister on net. Bishop eats it up.
18:37: Suster chops a slapper from the right point which hits a body in front.
18:30: Off some strong work down low by St. Louis, Brown puts a quick shot on net from in tight in the slot. Fleury eats it up.
18:10: Ebbett lifts a backhander on net from the left wing. Bishop fights it off.
18:04: Ebbett shuffles a backhanded pass off the left half wall to Despres at the left point. Despres pops a quick one-timer which Bishop kicks out.
16:58: Letang whacks a quick one-time from the right point wide on the near side.
15:49: Another penalty for Malkin. He is called for high sticking Filppula while battling for a puck on the left wing wall of the Tampa Bay zone. Sutter, Dupuis, Letang and Opik take the ice.
15:15: Nikita Kucherov sweeps a forehand shot from the right of the cage. FLeury fights it offl.
14:56: Things are evened up as Alex Killorn tripped up Dupuis on the Penguins left half wall. There will be 1:07 of four-on-four play.
14:38: Muscling his way by Hedman off the right half wall, Crosby pushes a shot on net down low. Bishop fights it off.
14:08: Niskanen is in deep on the right wing and sneaks a pass to Sutter sneaking in in off the left wing. Sutter flips a forehand shot which Bishop juuuust gets a piece of.
13:49: Malkin's minor is killed. The Penguins will have 53 seconds of a power play to work with.
12:51: Letang whacks a one-timer from the right point. It hits a body in front.
12:56: The Killorn minor expires. The Penguins failed to record a shot on net with that chance.
11:43: Off some strong passing by the Lightning, Killorn leans down on a one-timer from the right circle. Orpik blocks it.
11:25: Off a sharp breakout pass by Sustr, Kucherov splits Engelland and Niskanen down the slot. Kucherov tries to tuck a forehand shot through Fleury's five hole. Fleury holds it out as a few teammates tumble around him. What a pass by Sustr.
11:02: Battling for a puck in the right corner of the Tampa Bay zone, Conner sticks Brewer on his wallet with a sneaky shoulder check.
10:52: Fighting through traffic, Killorn rips a little wrister low from the right of the cage. FLeury's right leg kicks it out.
9:45: A one-timer by Maatta from the left point pinballs off a few legs.
9:04: Suster floats a wrister from the right point wide to the far side.
8:47: Driving into the offensive zone one-on-one against Carle, Malkin flips a backhander from the right circle. Bishop eats it up.
6:49: Niskanen floats a wrister from the right point which hits a body in front.
5:58: Off a feed by Dupuis, Kunitz has the makings of a mini-breakaway but loses the puck as he flips the puck to his backhand.
4:00: Despres flings a wister from the right point. Bishop snags it.
3:49: Brown races up the left wing, gets a step on Engelland and flips a backhander on net. Fleury hugs the near post and fights off the puck. It rolls to the slot where St. Louis directs it back on net. Fleury smothers it.
2:55: Dupuis chops a one-timer from above the right circle wide to the far side.
2:15: Adams whacks a one-timer from center point. it hits off the end boards to the right of the cage. Vitale collects the rebound and whips a spinning backhander from the left circle. Bishop smothers it.
1:46: Sutter is smashed into the right wing boards of the Tampa Bay zone by Brewer.
1:26: After Killorn and Purcell dig a puck from along the Penguins' end boards, Kucherov has a chance in the left circle but Conner breaks it up with a backcheck.
0:33: St. Louis races up the right against Niskanen and tries to flip a forehand shot but Niskanen forces it wide on the far side.
0:22: A late penalty for hte Penguins. Neal is nabbed for hooking Filppula in the Penguins' left circle. A rough time to kill a penalty. Orpik, Letang, Sutter and Adams take the ice.
0:01: Clutch. Off a feed from Brown, Panik rips a heavy wrister from the slot. Fleury squares up and kicks it out.
0:00: End of period. Penguins 1, Lightning 0.
-Things opened up a bit that period. Each squad took a few more offensive chances and exchanged a few shots but the score remained the same.
-Fleury continues to look sharp. Perhaps being pulled against Toronto was the best thing for him to get out of the mini funk he was in.
-How confident does Simon Despres look?
-The Lightning still has plenty of offensive players even with Stamkos and Malone out. St. Louis gets all the attention but players like Filppula, Panik, Purcell and others can create some offense.
-While it hasn't stood out nearly as much as it did Wednesday, the third line of Sutter, Ebbett and Conner continues to display a ton of chemistry.
-The Penguins have a 16-15 edge in shots on net.
-The Lightning has a 35-34 edge in attempted shots.
-Brown leads the game with three shots.
-Dupuis, the great Joe Vitale, Despres and Malkin each lead the game with two shots.
-Hedman leads the game with 17:03 of ice time.
-Crosby leads the Penguins with 13:58.
-The Penguins have a 17-15 lead in faceoffs (53 percent).
-Filppula is 8 for 11 (73 percent).
-Sutter is 5 for 9 (56 percent).
-Orpik and Carle each lead the game with three blocked shots.
20:00: The Lightning will start the period will 1:38 of a power play on fresh ice. Letang, Orpik, Dupuis and Adams take the ice.
18:38: Purcell gets a pass from St. Louis in the right circle and rips a wrister wide to the far side.
18:21: Hedman rips a wrister from the left wing and misses the net. The puck hits the end boards, ricochets a way and clears the Penguins zone as Neal's minor expires.
17:35: Despres rips a wrister from the left point. Bishop kicks it out despite traffic.
16:40: Engelland wires a one-timer from the right point. Bishop steers it away.
15:06: Salo lifts a rister from the slot which hits a body in front.
14:53: Off some passing by Dupuis and Crosby, Kunitz rips a wrister from the right circle which Salo deflects out of play with a stick.
14:24: Carle booms a one-timer from the center point. It hits off something and deflects juuuuust wide to the left of the cage.
13:23: A mistake leads to a Penguins' power play. Mark Barberio flips a puck out of play from his own zone. The great Joe Vitale pressured him a bit on the play. That's delay of game.Kunitz, Crosby, Malkin, Neal and Letang take the ice.
12:52: keeping a puck in the offensive zone at the left point, Letang veers towards the high slot and pumps a slapper which Bishop fights off.
12:25: Off a feed by Kunitz, Neal leans down on a one-timer in the slot. Carle blocks it.
11:33: Brandon Sutter gets a bit lucky and gives the Penguins a two-goal lead. Sutter takes a pass in the right circle and shuffles a forehand shots on net. Bishop kicks it out. Sutter recovers the rebound and set up shop behind the cage. He tries to deal a pass to Crosby in the slot but Hedman leans down and accidentally redirects the puck into the cage with his right skate. Great luck for Sutter. Rotten luck for Hedman. Crosby and Jokinen get assists. It's Crosby's 700th career point. Penguins 2-0.
10:21: After Despres ices the puck the Penguins call a timeout to get a breather.
7:31: A wrister by Panik from the right wing is deflected wide by Maatta's stick.
6:39: Engelland pops a one-timer from the center point. Bishop steers it way.
6:10: Off a three-on-two rush, Malkin takes a pass from Neal in the left circle and lifts a wrister. Bishop fights it off.
5:41: Ebbett takes a pass in the left circle and lifts a wrister which Bishop fights off.
4:27: Maatta booms a one-timer from the left point. It hits a cluster of bodies in front. Bishop is able to keep it out.
3:53: In deep on the right wing, Hedman rips a wrister from the right wing. Fleury steers it away.
3:24: Tyler Johnson has a wrister from the right circle blocked by Maatta.
3:05: Pressuring Brewer in the offensive zone, the great Joe Vitale steals a puck and snaps off a quick wrister from the slot. Bishop holds it out. Great effort by Vitale.
1:56: With Bishop pulled for an extra attacker, Hedman whacks a shot/pass from center point. Purcell is in the slot and re-directs it on net. Fleury knocks it dead and smothers.
1:43: Game. Set. Match. Crosby forces Johnson into a neutral zone turnover. Malkin takes the puck and backhands a pass to Kunitz on the left wing. Kunitz chucks the puck into the open cage for one of us:
Malkin and Crosby get assists. Penguins 3-0.
0:00: End of game. Penguins 3, Lightning 0.
-What a difference 48 hours can make. Wednesday, the Penguins played an incredibly sloppy game and stole two points against the Maple Leafs at home. Tonight, they were incredibly disciplined and earned two points against the Lightning on the road.
-Marc-Andre Fleury needed a game like this. He had been a little sloppy in his previous three games. He "reset" after being pulled Wednesday and calmly recorded his 26th career shutout.
-Overall, this was an odd game to get a feel for. There wasn't a lot of emotion or energy by either team. If you didn't know any better, you'd think it was the day after Thanksgiving. The odd practice schedule and the 4 p.m. start just made this an odd game in that regard.
-There wasn't even a lot of hitting and there was little to none in the way of post-whistle stuff.
-After a wild game on both ends of the spectrum, Kris Letang leveled off today. He had a few very questionable plays which led to turnovers, but they weren't anywhere near as crippling as the errors he made against the Maple Leafs.
-The Penguins first line showed a bit more chemistry than it had displayed in recent games. Sidney Crosby, Pascal Dupuis and Chris Kunitz only really produced one goal in five-on-five play, but they generated quite a few chances most of the game.
-The second line of Evgeni Malkin, James Neal and Jussi Jokinen was a tad quiet.
-Simon Despres has looked very confident and very sturdy two games into his return. We're not sure that it is all that surprising. He played this way throughout much of the preseason. If not for the team's numbers with waiver-eligible players on defense and the rise of Olli Maatta, he would have started the season at the NHL level.
-The third line of Chris Conner, Andrew Ebbett and Brandon Sutter wasn't as noticeable as it was Wednesday but it was sharp. No combination the team has used on the third line as looked as good as this current trio.
-The Penguins' special teams came through once again with one power play goal and three successful penalty kills.
-The Lightning had chances. Its players were able to use their speed and give the Penguins issues and they pressured Fleury a bit. They just couldn't finish. If they had Steven Stamkos, this could have been a different game.
-We can't recall Ben Bishop having this strong of a game against the Penguins before. He usually seems befuddled by them. Tonight, he only really gave up one legit goal, Kunitz's. The Sutter goal was a fluke. Bishop did everything he could to give his team a chance to win this game.
-The Penguins led in shots on net, 29-21.
The Penguins led in attempted shots, 54-51
-Malkin, Engelland and J.T. Brown each led the game with four shots.
-Victor Hedman led the game with 24:54 of ice time.
-Letang led the Penguins with 23:12.
-The Lightning had a 26-25 edge in faceoffs (51 percent).
-Valtteri Filppula was 11 for 16 (65 percent).
-The great Joe Vitale was 7 for 9 (78 percent).
-Matt Carle led the game with four blocked shots.
-Brooks Orpik led the Penguins with three blocked shots.
-Craig Adams was given a game misconduct after the game. No clue what that's about.
-The Penguins shutout the Lightning in a regular season game for the first time since a 2-0 road win, March, 4, 2008. Fleury made 35 saves in that game.
-Crosby became the 217th player in NHL history to reach the 700-point mark.
-To much less fanfare than the 700-point barrier, Crosby recorded his 450th career assist and passed Ron Francis (449) for third most in franchise history.
-Kunitz (237 points) passed Ken Schinkel (236) for 32nd place on the franchise's all-time scoring list.