Tampa Bay Lightning vs Pittsburgh Penguins
Tyler Johnson scored 53 seconds into overtime to give the Tampa Bay Lightning a 4-3 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins. Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov contributed two goals and one assist while goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy turned aside 31 shots in the win. The Lightning lead the best-of-seven series 3-2 and are one win away from going to the Stanley Cup Final for the second consecutive year.
“I get to watch them (Lightning) a hundred-plus times a year and so it’s a lot of fun to be their coach and I’m not saying they don’t give you ulcers, but the quiet calm about that group and even when we were down 2-0 midway through the game, there wasn’t any panic, there wasn’t anything going on, on the bench other than ‘let’s just get the next one’,” said Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper following his squad’s victory. “There was a lot of confidence in that group and they knew what they were doing.”
Pittsburgh controlled most of the play in the first period but Vasilevskiy stopped all seven shots the Penguins put his way.
It was Penguins defenseman Brian Dumoulin who would give his club a 1-0 lead with his team’s eighth shot with 0.7 seconds remaining in the first period. He joined the rush with teammate Bryan Rust who collected a loose puck in the neutral zone that was initially pushed ahead by Chris Kunitz. Rust skated the puck into the Tampa Bay zone and unleashed a shot at Vasilevskiy that the netminder stopped. Dumoulin won the race with Tampa Bay’s (and fellow Boston College alum) Brian Boyle to the rebound and he put a shot into the open side of the net. It was Dumoulin’s first career playoff goal.
Patric Hornqvist added to the Penguins lead with his seventh goal of the postseason. Sidney Crosby fought off a Lightning backchecker as he carried the puck into the Tampa Bay zone along the right wing wall. He turned and passed it back to defenseman Olli Maata at the blue line. Matta sent a shot-pass to the left side of Vasilevskiy’s crease to Carl Hagelin, who one-touched a pass across the crease to Hornqvist. Hornqvist reached out and tapped the pass into the net and Pittsburgh had a 2-0 lead 1:30 into the second period.
Pittsburgh was in complete control of the game in the second period until Alex Killorn scored Tampa Bay’s first goal of the night. Lightning defenseman Andrej Sustr rimmed the puck around the boards behind the Pittsburgh net from the right wing to left wing where Killorn gathered it, moved into the left faceoff circle and unleashed a missile of a wrist shot over the short-side shoulder of Penguin goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury that no goaltender could have stopped. The goal cut Pittsburgh’s lead to 2-1 at 13:15 of the period.
Nikita Kucherov tied the score at 2-2 for Tampa Bay only 1:10 after the Killorn goal. Sustr forced a Penguins’ turnover at the right half-wall in the Pittsburgh zone causing the puck to come free. Vladislav Namestnikov skated into the puck and moved it toward the center of the zone where he found Kucherov in the high slot and fed him with a perfectly placed pass. Kucherov directed a shot that eluded Fleury over the goaltender’s outstretched blocker and pad for his 10th goal of the playoffs tying him for the league lead in goals with San Jose’s Joe Pavelski.
With the tide turned in Tampa Bay’s favor, it appeared the period would end in a 2-2 tie but Penguins winger Chris Kunitz had other ideas. Maata had his shot from in close denied by Vasilevskiy. Maata followed the puck as it went behind the Penguins’ net and slid it in front of the Pittsburgh goal. Evgeni Malkin took control of it with his back to the net and spun around to get a shot off. Vasilevskiy stopped Malkin’s bid and reached out to put his glove on the disc but Kunitz took a swipe at the puck and put it under Vasilevskiy and into the back of the net to give Pittsburgh a 3-2 lead with 49.6 seconds to play in the second period.
The third period saw the goaltenders take over until it appeared that Ryan Callahan had tied the game late in the session but his shot hit the goal post and bounced along the goal line before skidding into the corner but it only took a few seconds for Kucherov to tie it at 3-3 when he collected the rebound of a Johnson shot and skated behind the Pittsburgh net and successfully wrapped the puck around the post and into the goal making it a 3-3 game at 16:44 of the frame. The lamplighter gave Kucherov sole possession of the league lead in playoff goals with eleven.
Each team pushed to win it in regulation but were not able to score and it was off to overtime where Johnson had Jason Garrison’s shot deflect off his backside and land in the back of the Pittsburgh net for the game-winning goal.
“We want to try to get that Game 6 in front of our home fans so we’re happy with what we did (tonight) and, hopefully, we can continue it,” Johnson said after winning the game for the Lightning.
Game 6 will be played in Tampa’s Amalie Arena on Tuesday, May 24th at 8:00 pm ET (NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports.)
Stat of the Night:
When teams are tied 2-2 in a best-of-seven playoff series, the winner of Game 5 holds an all-time series record of 192-53 (78.3%).
The Tampa Bay Lightning improved to 14-8 in all-time playoff overtime games, including a 3-1 mark in this postseason and 11-4 record on the road.
The Tampa Bay Lightning (.733) own the highest win percentage in playoff OT road games in Stanley Cup Playoffs history (minimum two games).
Tyler Johnson’s overtime goal was the fastest in Tampa Bay Lightning playoff history. Previous: Brad Richards (1:05) in Game 3 of 2004 Conference Semifinals vs Montreal, per Elias Sports Bureau.
Per Elias Sports Bureau, the Tampa Bay Lightning tied a franchise record with three overtime wins in a playoff year, also achieved in 2004 and 2015.
The Tampa Bay Lightning improved to 12-1 since the start of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs when Tyler Johnson scores a playoff goal.
Per Elias Sports Bureau, Nikita Kucherov became the third player in NHL history to record 10 or more goals in multiple postseasons before his 23rd birthday, joining Chicago’s Jeremy Roenick in 1990 (11 goals) and in 1992 (12 goals) and Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin in 2008 (10 goals) and in 2009 (14 goals).
Nikita Kucherov has collected multiple points in three consecutive contests (2 goals, 5 assists, 7 points).
Most game-winning goals in Tampa Bay Lightning playoff history, Martin St. Louis – 8; Brad Richards -7; Tyler Johnson – 7.
Pittsburgh’s Marc-Andre Fleury made his 100th career playoff appearance in Game 5, becoming the 18th goaltender in NHL history to reach the milestone.
Monday’s Stanley Cup Schedule:
Game 5 – Western Conference Finals – San Jose Sharks at St. Louis Blues (8:00 pm ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports). Best-of-seven series is tied 2-2.
Follow ESPN New Hampshire’s NHL Writer, Shawn Hutcheon, on Twitter at @ShawnHutcheon.