Penguins fall to Lightning 5-3


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TAMPA, Fla. -- Dan Bylsma understands that these games come with no guarantees.

That scoring two short-handed goals on the same penalty assures nothing.

That even getting three points from Craig Adams in little more than 12 minutes, when he had managed to record that many only three times in 596 previous games, does not automatically translate to a victory.

But, in the minutes after the Penguins' 5-3 loss to Tampa Bay at the St. Pete Times Forum Wednesday night, he couldn't help but smile while reflecting on how his team hadn't been able to turn such novelties into a couple of points.

"A betting man would go that way," Bylsma said. "I think you'd put that one in the bank, with Craig Adams getting three."

Trouble is, the three Adams got -- a goal and two assists -- in the first 12-plus minutes were trumped by the three Tampa Bay winger Martin St. Louis accumulated in the final 32.

He assisted on Vincent Lecavalier's tying goal at 8:43 of the second period, then scored the winner on a spectacular effort at 6:40 of the third and clinched the victory with an empty-netter.

Ironically, considering that the Penguins scored more goals when Tampa Bay had the extra man than the Lightning did, the number of penalties the Penguins took was a critical factor in the outcome.

Even though the Lightning converted on just one of seven chances -- that one on a five-on-three -- the energy the Penguins expended killing penalties, and the momentum they lost doing it, contributed significantly to their defeat.

"We took too many penalties," defenseman Brooks Orpik said.

"You have that personnel over there on the power play, even if they're not scoring, that gasses you, playing in your own zone. And, when they do score, that's pretty deflating."

The Penguins held a 3-2 edge until Lecavalier got Tampa Bay's only man-advantage goal, and they had rebounded from an early, 1-0 deficit to build a two-goal lead.

Dana Tyrell beat goalie Marc-Andre Fleury from the left side of the crease at 2:51 of the opening period -- "I got there late, and he somehow found a hole," Fleury said -- but the Penguins regained their footing after Pascal Dupuis was penalized for holding at 3:18.

Seventy-one seconds later, they were up, 2-1.

Adams pulled them even at 3:28, beating Lightning goalie Mike Smith with a wrist shot from the top of the right circle.

The goal not only was his first of the season, but his first in 99 career regular-season games with the Penguins.

Matt Cooke then put the Penguins in front at 4:29, when he backhanded a rebound by Kris Letang, who had gotten the puck from Adams, past Smith.

That marked the 20th time in franchise history the Penguins have gotten two short-handed goals in the same game, but it was the first time since Max Talbot and Letang scored in Montreal April 11, 2009, that they've scored two on the same penalty.

Adams was penalized for tripping at 10:04, and, just 11 seconds after he returned, he set up Dupuis, who shoveled a backhander by Smith for his second of the season.

That goal prompted Lightning coach Guy Boucher to replace Smith, who had allowed three goals on seven shots, with Dan Ellis, who stopped all 24 shots he faced.

Teddy Purcell of Tampa Bay made it 3-2 at 16:40, and the Penguins seemed to lose their edge and focus during the intermission that followed.

"The second and third, consistently, we gave up big chances, and we didn't execute," center Sidney Crosby said.

Ultimately, St. Louis broke a 3-3 tie by getting around defenseman Ben Lovejoy and flipping a shot over Fleury.

The Penguins had a fifth, futile power play -- completing their third consecutive game without a man-advantage goal -- before St. Louis hit an empty net to cement his place as the No. 1 star of the game.

Although Adams was overlooked when the stars were selected, chances are he didn't notice the slight. Fact is, he seemed far more concerned about how the game ended than with what he had done near the start of it.

"It's tough to have it turn out like this, regardless," he said.

"To be up, 3-1, in the first and end up losing the game is not going to feel good, no matter how it plays out."


For more on the Penguins, read the Pens Plus blog with Dave Molinari and Shelly Anderson at www.post-gazette.com/plus . Dave Molinari: dmolinari@post-gazette.com .


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