Pittsburgh 5, Tampa Bay 2
When: 7:00 PM ET, Saturday, November 25, 2017
Where: PPG PAINTS Arena, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Francis Charron, Francois St. Laurent
Bevan Mills, Brad Kovachik
PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins most likely are grateful that winger Phil Kessel shows more pizzazz on the ice than he does when talking about his game.
Kessel offered little more than a verbal shrug Saturday night after he had two goals and two assists to lead the Penguins to a 5-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning at PPG Paints Arena.
Kessel reached a team-leading 31 points and provided more than enough support for rookie goaltender Tristan Jarry, who made 33 saves for his first career win.
"I don't know. I'm just playing. Usual. Nothing new," said Kessel, who has 16 points in his past 10 games.
His coach was more effusive.
"He's just an elite player. I don't know how else to say it," Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. "He's a very good player when he's playing the game as determined as he is right now. You see how he has the ability to be a difference maker."
Sidney Crosby also had two goals, scoring for the second straight game after getting one goal in a 15-game stretch, and added an assist. Bryan Rust also scored and Justin Schultz had two assists for the Penguins (12-10-3), who ended a season-long three-game losing streak.
"We needed that win tonight," Kessel said. "We needed to find our footing and get a couple wins going. Tonight was a good start."
Three of Pittsburgh's goals came during five-on-three power plays.
Ondrej Palat and Cory Conacher scored for Tampa Bay (16-5-2), which has incurred three of its five regulation losses in the past four games.
Jarry, 22, in his first career home start, made a right pad save on Tampa Bay sniper Steven Stamkos on a breakaway in the first period and slid across his crease to rob Nikita Kucherov in the second. He also picked up an assist, his first career point, on Rust's goal.
"It's something that I've been trying for every game and something I've come close, but I hadn't yet reached that," Jarry said of his first win -- something for which he got the game puck as a souvenir.
"It's something that I was pushing for tonight. I was trying to give it my best shot and do as much as I could."
Jarry is 1-0-2 this season, 1-1-2 in the NHL. Stopping a prolific scorer such as Stamkos early helped.
"I still had a bit of nerves, so you're able to stop that one and you're able to settle a little bit and you're able to get to your game," he said.
Lightning goaltender Peter Budaj stopped 29 of 34 Penguins shots.
The Penguins lost their first two games against the Lightning this season, both on the road, by a combined 12-5. They have won 12 of their past 13 home games against the Lightning.
Tampa Bay entered the night first in the league standings, a mantel it yielded to St. Louis.
"We're going to get the A-game from every team every night, being the top team in the league," Lightning defenseman Dan Girardi said. "It's something we have to be prepared for, and the last, maybe, three or five games, we haven't really been ready off the start.
"Get in penalty trouble tonight and we're trying, but it's not going our way right now. We have to figure out a way to stop it at two (losses in a row) here."
Pittsburgh not only withstood four minutes being short-handed in the first period when Jake Guentzel high-sticked Palat against what was the top power play in the NHL, but it also got a short-handed goal from Rust at 14:36 for a 1-0 lead.
Jarry flicked the puck, which was picked up by Rust, who chipped and chased it for a long breakaway. He lifted the puck under the crossbar.
The tables turned later in the first when Pittsburgh got a four-minute power play after Cedric Paquette high-sticked Crosby. Anton Stralman then tripped Guentzel, giving the Penguins a five-on-three advantage.
Crosby set up Kessel, who slammed it inside the right post to make it 2-0 at 18:03.
Still with Pittsburgh having a two-man advantage, Kessel returned the favor, setting up a Crosby deflection goal with 33.1 seconds left in the first for a 3-0 lead.
"I thought five-on-five we were playing well," said Tampa Bay's Alex Killorn, who had an assist. "We were doing a good job. It's just, we put ourselves in a tough situation.
"I won't comment on the referee or anything like that, but just to put yourself in a situation five-on-three, those are some of the best players in the league. So it's difficult. We kind of got ourselves in a hole there, one that we couldn't get out of."
Kessel scored on a breakaway at 2:22 of the second period to make it 4-0.
Kessel was in the penalty box on a slashing minor when Palat's deflected power-play goal made it 4-1 at 6:52 of the second.
Crosby's five-on-three goal from the right dot made it 5-1 at 4:41 of the third period, and Conacher's power-play goal closed the scoring at 13:54.
NOTES: Pittsburgh C Evgeni Malkin (upper-body injury) missed his third straight game and is day to day. ... Tampa Bay D Jake Dotchin (undisclosed) missed his third straight game. ... Pittsburgh D Ian Cole was a healthy scratch for the second consecutive game. ... Pittsburgh C Sidney Crosby played in his 807th game, passing Jaromir Jagr for second in team history, behind Mario Lemieux (915).
Top Game Performances
Cory Conacher 1
Phil Kessel 4
Cory Conacher 1
Phil Kessel 2
Yanni Gourde 1
Phil Kessel 2
Ondrej Palat 1
||Power Play Goals
Sidney Crosby 2
||Short Handed Goals
Bryan Rust 1
Peter Budaj .853
Tristan Jarry .943
Peter Budaj 29
Tristan Jarry 33
Team Stats Summary
||Face Offs Won
Pittsburgh will play their next game at home against Philadelphia. The Penguins have a W/L % of .455 after a win and .500 after a loss.
Tampa Bay will play their next game on the road against Buffalo. The Lightning have a W/L % of .647 after a win and .833 after a loss.