Call it a do-over. A chance for a little redemption. The Pittsburgh Penguins just want to be able to call it something better than last week when they played the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Five days after they fell to the Lightning 4-2 on the road, the Penguins get another crack at that club Tuesday at PPG Paints Arena.
“Right now we’re trying to build our game and make sure we’re playing well going into the playoffs and battling hard,” Penguins defenseman Kris Letang said. “To have to face a team we just lost to again it’s good. It’s a good challenge. They’re a team that’s been playing really well. It’s good to having them back quick.”
The Penguins weren’t happy with their performance in Thursday’s game. They got behind early and never got untracked.
“Especially after a game like that – it was pretty intense, kind of a playoff style game against a good team who’s very opportunistic,” Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said. “I feel like we didn’t have a great start. We want to make sure we start better and get a better result.”
Tampa Bay sits third in the NHL with 75 points, two ahead of the Penguins, thanks to Thursday’s game.
Since that game, the Penguins finished their road trip Saturday with a 3-2 win at Florida. The Lightning topped the New York Islanders 3-1 at home Saturday and takes a six-game win streak and eight-game point streak into a game Monday night at Columbus.
The Penguins have been off since Saturday, so they could have an advantage with Tampa Bay playing on back-to-back nights – assuming they use their quick next crack at the Lightning wisely.
A few weeks ago, the Penguins were unhappy with a 3-0 loss at Philadelphia. That was the first half of a home-and-home series that was interrupted by the All-Star break and a bye week for both clubs. Ten days after the loss, the Penguins bounced back with a 4-3 win at home against the Flyers.
They will be looking for something similar Tuesday.
“It’s good that we play them right away like this,” Penguins defenseman Marcus Pettersson said of the Lightning. “We were unhappy with that game, especially the first period. It’s going to be a great challenge. We know they’re playing well. They have been for quite some time now. They’ve really found their game. It’s going to be another one of those playoff-mindset games.”