TAMPA, Fla. – Ty Conklin and the Pittsburgh Penguins kept two positive streaks going, and stopped a bad one in the process.
Conklin made 35 saves, Jordan Staal had two goals and an assist, and the Penguins extended their winning streak to eight games with a 4-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday night.
It’s the Penguins’ longest win streak since a 10-game stretch in January and February 1999. Pittsburgh also stopped a 12-game losing skid against Tampa Bay.
“I think everybody’s confident,” Conklin said. “It’s not one or two guys, it’s a team.”
Conklin has won nine starts in a rows, while Staal snapped a seven-game goal-scoring drought. Ryan Malone and Evgeni Malkin had third-period goals for Pittsburgh.
Pittsburgh’s previous win over Tampa Bay came on Jan. 17, 2003.
“I think all teams have pride, and whether it was guys who where here for it or weren’t here for it, you don’t want to have to talk about it every time either,” Pittsburgh all-star Sidney Crosby said. “For us, we want to be considered a good team at home and on the road. We don’t want to be known for having bad games.”
Paul Ranger scored for the Lightning, who have lost 11 of 13. Karri Ramo had 25 saves.
“We were trying to gain momentum, but I didn’t think we played well enough to win,” Tampa Bay coach John Tortorella said.
Crosby had his nine-game point streak end. He had 13 assists and 16 points over the stretch. Tampa Bay’s Vincent Lecavalier, who will also be an all-star starter, was held without a point.
“We both had some opportunties and didn’t bury them,” Lecavalier said.
Lecavalier had six shots. Crosby finished with four.
Staal’s two second-period goals gave the Penguins a 2-1 lead. He redirected Petr Sykora’s shot for a power-play goal to tie it at 12:11. The centre then made it 2-1 from in close at 14:33 after Sykora sent the puck off the side of the net from the corner along the goal line
“We had a great first and the second period was flat … I don’t know why,” Lightning defenceman Shane O’Brien said.
Staal, who had 29 goals in his rookie campaign last season, has just five this season.
Ranger put the Lightning up 1-0 at 4:11 of the second. Conklin had been knocked to the ice and was on his back when Ranger scored.
Conklin stopped 13 shots in the first, including a diving save on Lecavalier’s shot from the low right circle. Ramo turned aside Crosby’s backhander, one of eight first-period saves.
“He’s playing outstanding for us,” Pittsburgh coach Michel Therrien said of Conklin. “That’s a big surprise. He got a chance, he got an oportunity to be back in the NHL and he’s certainly trying to take full advantage of it.”
Tampa Bay had six shots during a four-minute power play early in the third. Conklin stopped Martin St. Louis’ backhander, and also got a break when Filip Kuba’s shot from the left circle hit the post.
“It’s frustrating,” Kuba said. “It’s how it’s going right now for us.”
Malone made it 3-1 on his goal with 2:39 left in the third. Malkin added an empty-netter with 11.5 seconds to go.
Notes: Penguins centres Erik Christensen and Tyler Kennedy didn’t play because of flu-like symptoms. … Pittsburgh C Maxime Talbot (ankle) was in back in the lineup after missing the previous 13 games. … Tampa Bay D Dan Boyle (wrist surgery) is skating during practice, but the team has not announced a timetable for his return.