Pittsburgh, PA (Sports Network) – Evgeni Malkin scored seven seconds into the contest and the Pittsburgh Penguins never looked back in an 8-1 thrashing of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Chris Kunitz had the second hat trick of his career, Alex Goligoski had a goal and three assists, while Chris Conner and Tyler Kennedy each added a goal and an assist for the Penguins, who were coming off a 3-1 loss to Washington in the Winter Classic on New Year’s Day.
Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 31 shots for Pittsburgh, which came into the contest having dropped three of its last four.
Adam Hall scored the lone goal for the Lightning, who came into the game with just one regulation loss in their previous 12 games.
One day after blanking the Capitals in his Lightning debut, starter Dwayne Roloson allowed five goals on 23 shots to take the loss. Dan Ellis, who spelled Roloson in the first and was placed back in net for the third, allowed three goals on 18 shots.
Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby and Tampa’s Steven Stamkos, the top two in goals and points in the NHL, combined for just one point, an assist from Crosby.
The hosts created a nightmare for the Bolts right from the drop of the puck, seizing control with a five-goal first period.
Tampa won the opening faceoff back to the right wing, but a pass back to the defender was picked off by Malkin, who skated in on a breakaway where he snapped a shot home from the right side at just the seven-second mark.
Just over two minutes later, Ben Lovejoy sent a shot on net from the right point that hit off the skate of Conner for a 2-0 lead.
Kennedy got on the scoresheet at the 7:17 mark of the first when he skated across the Tampa zone, waited till he got to the right side, and sent a low shot that hopped off the stick of a defender and trickled in.
That prompted a goaltender change, but it didn’t help as Kunitz hit the back of the net on the first shot Ellis encountered just 25 seconds after the Kennedy goal.
On the power play, the Pens made it a 5-0 game with 1:04 to play in the first when a slap shot by Goligoski at the left point changed direction off Kunitz and slid in.
The Pens continued to pour it on in the second as Mark Letestu scored on a lifted backhander that knocked the water bottle off the net at the 12:54 mark and Kunitz completed the hat trick with 11 seconds left in the middle frame.
To add insult to injury, Stamkos was awarded a penalty shot earlier in the second period, but he fell down on the attempt before getting a shot off.
Hall scored 2:25 into the third to relieve the visitors of the burden of a shutout loss, but it was countered by Goligoski just over a minute later to account for the final score.
It was a season high in goals for by Pittsburgh and tied a season high in goals against for Tampa Bay…Pittsburgh plays at Montreal on Thursday…Tampa continues its four-game road trip in Ottawa on Saturday…Pittsburgh has won two of the three meetings with Tampa this season. These teams will meet for the final time in the regular season on March 31 in Tampa Bay…The Penguins’ record for fastest goal to start a game is six seconds by Jean Pronovost in 1976.
01/05 22:35:01 ET