PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The latest round of winter weather moved through the Pittsburgh area overnight. While some kids may have been outside playing in the snow, the Pittsburgh Penguins put up a snowman on the scoreboard against the Tampa Bay Lightning Saturday afternoon.
Evgeni Malkin had three goals and an assist, while Marc-Andre Fleury made 34 saves to power the Penguins to an 8-1 drubbing of the Lightning.
The Penguins got off to a bit of a slow start, but Fleury made a couple of early saves to keep Tampa Bay off the board.
Just over 11 minutes into the game, the Penguins scored the first of three first period goals.
James Neal carried the puck into the Tampa Bay zone and was able to maintain possession with a great individual effort. As he rounded the net, Dwayne Roloson went for a poke check, but broke his stick over Neal’s skate.
Neal fed Malkin behind the net, who quickly found Chris Kunitz in the faceoff circle to Roloson’s right. Kunitz fired a shot on goal that bounced off of defenseman Victor Hedman and behind Roloson to put Pittsburgh up 1-0.
The Penguins struck again just 50 seconds later.
A shot from the right point was blocked in front. However, Matt Cooke was able to find the bouncing puck and beat Roloson with a quick shot under the crossbar to put the Penguins up 2-0.
Almost three minutes later, Jordan Staal would pick up his 20th goal of the season.
With Zbynek Michalek in the box, Staal stole the puck at his own blue line and moved in on a breakaway. He got Roloson to open up the five-hole and buried it to give Pittsburgh a 3-0 lead.
It is the fourth time in Staal’s career that he has scored at least 20 goals in a season.
The score would remain unchanged heading into the first intermission, but Tampa Bay came out with a renewed purpose in the second period.
The Lightning had several great chances to score, but Fleury filled an entire highlight reel with his performance in the period. Early on, Fleury stopped Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis on breakaway opportunities. He also made a blind right pad save on a rebound opportunity by Trevor Smith.
Later in the period, the Penguins cashed in on a 4-on-3 power play opportunity.
Neal made an outlet pass from his own defensive end to Steve Sullivan in flight. Sullivan gained control, moved into the Tampa Bay zone and drew two defenders to him. At the last second, Sullivan fed a cross-ice pass to Staal who finished off the play to give the Penguins a 4-0 lead.
Six minutes later, Malkin blew a one-timer by Roloson from a sharp angle to put Pittsburgh up 5-0.
Despite Fleury’s best effort in the game, he would not be able to set the franchise record for shutouts.
With Tampa Bay on the power play, Teddy Purcell slammed home a rebound to break the shutout and score the Lightning’s lone goal in the contest.
If the second period was all about Fleury, the third period was all about Malkin.
Six minutes into the third period, Malkin took the puck in his own zone, weaved in and out of four Tampa Bay players and tucked the puck between Roloson’s legs for a goal that you’ll be seeing highlights of for years to come.
However, Malkin wasn’t done and made many fans go home without headwear as he buried a rebound on the power play at 13:42 of the third period to complete the hat trick.
It was his second hat trick against the Lightning this season and the ninth of his career.
Pascal Dupuis would add a late goal on a rebound off of a shot by Staal to cap the scoring in the game.
Roloson allowed eight goals on 34 shots in the game.
The Penguins will look to keep the momentum going when they host the Columbus Blue Jackets Sunday afternoon at CONSOL Energy Center.