TAMPA, Fla. (KDKA/AP) — In a possible preview to the first round of the playoffs, the Penguins met the Tampa Bay Lightning Thursday night at the St. Pete Times Forum.
Mike Rupp scored for the Pens, but the Lightning took an early two goal lead in the first period for a 2-1 victory. Martin St. Louis scored his 30th goal of the season as the Lightning clinched their first playoff berth since 2007.
Steve Downie also scored for the Lightning, who have won three in a row following a four-game losing skid.
Penguins center Sidney Crosby, sidelined for nearly three months with a concussion, resumed skating with his teammates in practice the morning before the game.
The Pittsburgh captain, out since Jan. 6., is not ready yet to participate in full practices. A return to game action for the postseason has not been completely ruled out.
Downie put the Lightning up 1-0 with a backhand rebound goal at 4:51 of the first.
St. Louis made it 2-0 with 9:47 left in the opening period.
Vincent Lecavalier set up the goal with a check on Penguins defenseman Kris Letang that resulted in St. Louis picking up a loose puck and then beating Marc-Andre Fleury from just below the right circle.
Lecavalier has six assists and eight points during a six-game point streak. The Lightning captain has 12 assists and 24 points in his last 23 games.
Rupp cut the deficit to 2-1 on the Penguins’ seventh shot of the period on Dwayne Roloson 4:31 into the third. The center stopped a personal 13-game goal drought.
Up next, the Pens stay in Florida for a game against the Panthers on Saturday at 7 p.m.