Final score: Penguins 5, Lightning 3.
Why it matters: The victory moved the Penguins back into first place in the Atlantic Division and into a tie with Montreal for first place in the Eastern Conference.
In a nutshell: The Penguins, playing their first game this season without Evgeni Malkin – he has been diagnosed with a concussion, and there is not target date for his return to the lineup – still managed to generate five goals, and to score a power-play goal for the 11th game in a row. Sidney Crosby scored twice in the first 7:15 of play, and defenseman Paul Martin added a goal with just over a half-minute left in the opening period to put the Penguins up, 3-0. Tampa Bay scored twice early in the second, however, and the Penguins needed a five-on-three goal by Beau Bennett – his first NHL goal – at 12:20 to put them in front to stay. Rookie Cory Conacher got Tampa Bay back within one early in the third, but the Lightning couldn't beat goalie Marc-Andre Fleury again and Matt Cooke sealed the victory with an empty-net goal in the final minute.
Turning point: Not long after Bennett scored what proved to be the game-winner, Fleury denied Nate Thompson of the Lightning on a shorthanded breakaway. A Tampa Bay goal then could have seriously altered the course of the game and would have, at the very least, restored the momentum the Lightning lost when Bennett got his goal.
Under the radar: Fleury wasn't recognized as one of the game's stars, but his 27 saves – including stops on Thompson and Richard Panik on breakaways – were a key to the victory.
Worth noting: Crosby passed Rick Kehoe for third place on the franchise's all-time points list. ... Penguins C Joe Vitale got the better of Tampa Bay RW Adam Hall, a Penguins alum, during a fight in the final minute of the opening period. ... Cooke picked up his 200th career assist on Martin's first-period goal. ... Penguins LW Chris Kunitz has at least one point in 10 of the past 12 games. ... The Penguins have at least one man-advantage goal in 11 consecutive games.
he brightest star: Crosby started strong, scoring a goal just 76 seconds into the game, and rarely let up in his first game with James Neal on his right side. In addition to the three points, he recorded five shots on goal and a 13-14 mark on faceoffs. His record on draws was worse than normal, but he rebounded well from a 1-4 start in the opening period.
The last word: Penguins LW Beau Bennett, reacting to his first NHL goal: "It felt pretty good, definitely. To get a big win with it ... goes hand-in-hand. It felt awesome."
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