Will tonight's Lightning-Penguins game produce the same excitement?
The Lightning return home tonight to face the Penguins for the second time in two weeks.
They last met Oct. 12, and it was an entertaining night at Amalie Arena with nearly 80 shots on goal and end-to-end action that ended in a 5-4 Lightning win.
Lightning associate coach Rick Bowness was asked after Friday’s practice if he expects the pace of play tonight to be not quite as fast.
“I think both sides would, but you have two very highly talented teams, lots of skill, lots of speed. That’s a lot easier said than done,” Bowness said. “Both teams are effective on the rush. Usually when you’re effective on the rush and you go down and create a chance, if you don’t get the retrieval, you’re giving up a chance the other way. That’s how the teams are built. We want to tighten it up a little bit, but you got to let your players go, too, and when that happens, you get a game like that.”
The Lightning (6-1-1) received two goals from Slater Koekkoek, the first two of his career, and one each from Victor Hedman, Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov. It was the first goal of the season for Stamkos.
The Lightning led 5-3 after two, but a goal midway through the third by Pittsburgh’s Matt Hunwick produced a frantic final 10 minutes.
Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin did not score for the Penguins (4-2-1 entering Friday’s night game against the Panthers in Sunrise). That was a bit surprising given the Penguins, as a team, took 40 shots. Crosby had six; Malkin just one.
Crosby was held without a point for only the second time in his past 17 games against the Lightning. Malkin was blanked for only the second time in his past 16 against the Bolts.
There will be a lot of fire power on the ice tonight, and while both coaching staffs would rather see a more controlled effort from their teams, that might not be possible.
“You still have to get your better players minutes and your better players are the ones going end to end,” Bowness said. “Sometimes you’re just, ‘OK, let it go. We’ll see how it all works out.’ That’s hockey. That’s the game.”