Cincinnati.com
National Hockey League
Preview
Tampa Bay at Pittsburgh
When: 7:00 PM ET, Thursday, November 15, 2018
Where: PPG PAINTS Arena, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

The Eastern Conference-leading Tampa Bay Lightning look to end their first losing streak of the season and find a way to score the first goal of the game when they visit the struggling Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday night. The Lightning have given up the first goal in 10 of 18 contests, including each of the last three, and dropped their second straight Tuesday at Buffalo 2-1 to open a four-game trip.

“We want to start better,” Tampa Bay captain Steven Stamkos told reporters. “It’s not an easy league to win in. It’s not an easy league to score goals in. So when you’re spotting teams a goal or two early in the game, we know we have it in this room to come back but you don’t want to make that a trend.” The Lightning has lost six of the last eight in the series and four straight at Pittsburgh, including playoffs, but the Penguins have managed only one victory in its last seven contests (1-5-1) and captain Sidney Crosby missed practice Wednesday while being evaluated for an upper-body injury. Pittsburgh has registered 13 goals during its slump - four in the lone win against Arizona - and had a 10-4 edge in shots during the third period Tuesday despite giving up the final two tallies in a 4-2 loss to New Jersey. “We made some mistakes that cost us and that’s part of it,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan told reporters after the defeat. “I thought we had an effort in spurts but it has to be more consistent.”

TV: 7 p.m. ET, TVA, FS Sun (Tampa Bay), AT&T Sportsnet Pittsburgh

ABOUT THE LIGHTNING (12-5-1): Tampa Bay had a 30-19 edge in shots, Nikita Kucherov hit the goal post twice late and leading scorer Brayden Point (nine goals, 19 points) was kept off the scoresheet for the third straight game Tuesday. Veteran defenseman Anton Stralman (upper body) practiced Wednesday after missing two straight games and defenseman Erik Cernak made his NHL debut one day earlier in his spot, registering five hits, two shots and a plus-1 rating against Buffalo. “He was comfortable out there,” coach Jon Cooper told reporters of Cernak, who was acquired from Los Angeles in the Ben Bishop deal. “The speed was no problem for him. He broke the pucks out he needed. He battled.”

ABOUT THE PENGUINS (7-6-3): Center Evgeni Malkin leads the team with 21 points (seven goals), but recorded one in the last five games with seven shots and a minus-4 rating. Crosby (five points in the last three games) and Phil Kessel (three, last two games) are next with 19 points apiece while fellow forward Jake Guentzel scored his sixth goal Tuesday after setting up a pair against Arizona. Pittsburgh acquired 26-year-old left wing Tanner Pearson, who managed only one point (assist) and 24 shots with a minus-9 rating in 17 games with Los Angeles, in exchange for 30-year-old forward Carl Hagelin (one goal, two assists, 16 games) Wednesday and recalled center Derek Grant because of Crosby’s status.

OVERTIME

1. Penguins D Kris Letang leads the team with 50 shots on net, but is mired in a five-game point drought.

2. Tampa Bay Ds Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi need one assist to reach 200 in their career while Kucherov is two shy.

3. Pittsburgh GM Jim Rutherford was signed to a three-year contract extension through 2021-22 on Wednesday.

PREDICTION: Penguins 4, Lightning 3
Stats and Records
Team Comparison
  W/L Strk Home Away Day Night Div
Tampa Bay 12-5-1-0 L2 7-3-0-0 5-2-1-0 1-0-0-0 11-5-1-0 4-2-0-0
Pittsburgh 7-6-1-2 L1 3-4-1-0 4-2-0-2 0-0-0-0 7-6-1-2 1-4-0-1
Last Meeting
Tampa Bay Pittsburgh
Date Away Home Shots Saves PP Shots Saves PP
11/25/17 TB 2 PIT 5 35 29 1-6 34 33 3-5
Player Stats
Previous Matchup
Total Points Player  
Tampa Bay C. Conacher 1
Pittsburgh P. Kessel 4
Goals Player  
Tampa Bay C. Conacher 1
Pittsburgh S. Crosby 2
Assists Player  
Tampa Bay Y. Gourde 1
Pittsburgh P. Kessel 2
Saves Player  
Tampa Bay P. Budaj 29
Pittsburgh T. Jarry 33
Season
Total Points Player  
Tampa Bay B. Point 21
Pittsburgh S. Crosby 23
Goals Player  
Tampa Bay B. Point 9
Pittsburgh P. Kessel 10
Assists Player  
Tampa Bay Y. Gourde 12
Pittsburgh E. Malkin 16
Saves Player  
Tampa Bay A. Vasilevskiy 469
Pittsburgh M. Murray 300
Quickchart Matchup
Tampa Bay Off vs  Pittsburgh Def
3.5 GF
3.06 GA
33.6 Shots
33.7 Shots
15 PP
8 PK
Pittsburgh Off vs  Tampa Bay Def
3.31 GF
2.78 GA
32.6 Shots
31.4 Shots
11 PP
8 PK