Given how this game began to unfold, it seemed like only a matter of time before the Pittsburgh Penguins would break through for the win.
The Penguins dominated the second period, firing 21 shots on goal at Andrei Vasilevskiy before Carl Hagelin finally broke a scoreless deadlock with only 10 seconds remaining in the middle period. They had finally broken through.
There was no stopping the Penguins — at least not for the remainder of Game 3 versus the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Penguins now lead the Eastern Conference Final 2-1, following a thorough thumping of the Lightning by a final score of 4-2 on Wednesday. It’s hard to fault the 21-year-old Vasilevskiy, who has been thrust into this series after the injury to Ben Bishop and stopped 44 of 48 shots faced Wednesday.
This result comes after Tampa Bay’s head coach Jon Cooper felt his team had “…more in the tank than what we’ve showed.”
(Graph courtesy hockeystats.ca)
The trio of Nick Bonino, Phil Kessel and Hagelin was again a catalyst for the Penguins.
Hagelin opened the scoring and Kessel increased that lead early in the third period, with that line providing a combined five points on Pittsburgh’s first two goals of the night.
After getting outshot 21-6 in the middle period, the Lightning did make things interesting.
Just 14 seconds after Kessel scored, Tyler Johnson cut the Tampa Bay deficit to one goal. But that was as close as the Lightning would get. Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz added to the Pittsburgh lead with goals 2:22 apart, securing the win on the road.
Penguins forward Patric Hornqvist didn’t play a single shift for the remaining 7:06 of the third period, with reports saying he blocked a shot prior to leaving the ice.
Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan acknowledged that Hornqvist did leave the bench, but didn’t provide an update beyond, “So, we’ll probably know more tomorrow.”