TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Sidney Crosby, Phil Kessel and Chris Kunitz scored third-period goals, helping the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-2 in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals Wednesday night.
Carl Hagelin snapped a scoreless tie late in the second period and Matt Murray had 26 saves for the Penguins, who took a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.
Game 4 is Friday night at Amalie Arena.
Crosby’s power-play goal restored a two-goal lead midway through the final period. Kunitz also beat goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy from the right circle to make it 4-1.
Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat scored for the Lightning. They have lost two straight after winning the series opener in Pittsburgh. The defending Eastern Conference champions were outshot 48-28, including 38-16 over the last two periods.
Vasilevskiy won Game 1 in relief of the injured Ben Bishop and the Penguins took Game 2 in Pittsburgh when Crosby scored the first overtime playoff goal of his career less than a minute into the extra period.
The Lightning were outshot by a combined 76-41 in the first two games, but weren’t as concerned with that disparity as much as by a lack of good scoring chances — a problem they hoped to rectify by coming out more aggressive to try to put more pressure on Penguins goalie Matt Murray on Wednesday night.
And for a while, they did.
Murray, though, had 12 saves in the opening period, but the Lightning couldn’t keep up the pace. Pittsburgh controlled the puck for much of the second period, taking 21 shots to Tampa Bay’s six and finally breaking through against the 21-year-old goaltender when Kessel chased down a loose puck before flicking a shot from the right circle.
Vasilevskiy, who had stopped Kessel on a breakaway earlier in the period, blocked the shot directly toward Hagelin, who tipped it in at 19:50.
Kessel’s team-leading seventh goal this postseason gave the Penguins a short-lived two-goal lead. Johnson countered for Tampa Bay just 14 seconds later, taking a pass from Nikita Kucherov and barreling in on Murray, who was unable to stop a shot that bounced off his upper body before continuing into the net.
Notes: Bishop worked out in full gear before Wednesday’s morning skate, and coach Jon Cooper said he’s hopeful that the Vezina Trophy finalist can practice Thursday. He hasn’t played since leaving Game 1 with a lower left leg injury. “He’s progressing,” Cooper said. “I think now we’re teetering on whether he can be back or not, but there’s obviously no guarantees in that. But he’s been making gradual steps every day.” … The Penguins went 1 for 3 on the power play. Tampa Bay was 0 for 1. … Crosby’s goal was his fifth of the playoffs. The Penguins star scored for the second straight game after going eight in a row without a goal.