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Penguins Grades: Tweaks, Pushback & Granlund Debut in 4th Straight Win (+)



Pittsburgh Penguins Game

TAMPA, Fla. — All is well that ends well. The Pittsburgh Penguins played a solid game structurally and spiritually as they overcame an early deficit to beat the Tampa Bay Lightning for the second time in a week. Marcus Pettersson set up Jason Zucker in overtime and another lost third-period lead became their second OT win in four games as they beat Tampa Bay, 5-4, at Amalie Arena.

The win added to a growing momentum inside the Penguins’ room, even as the NHL trade deadline has already cost that room three players and counting. The lineup is in flux without Teddy Blueger (trade), Brock McGrinn (waivers) and Kasperi Kapanen (waivers), but Mikael Granlund made his debut. The mix-and-match experimental lineup wasn’t lost on coach Mike Sullivan.

“It does (feel good), yeah, because we’re trying to trying to figure out what we have here and how to make combinations work,” said Sullivan. “We’re doing that on the fly. And that’s going to be a little bit of a feeling-out process. … We’ll sort through that stuff. We’ll figure that out and we’ve got an opportunity to put some combinations together that that make us a little bit diverse. We’ll see where it goes.”

It’s probably the most open Sullivan has been in his Penguins’ tenure regarding lineup uncertainty, but several players provided reasons for optimism, including Drew O’Connor and Jeff Carter.

Yes, Jeff Carter.

The report card and chalkboard reflect that optimism, too.

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