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Stamkos lifts Lightning past Penguins

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) Steven Stamkos' 11-month wait for a goal is over.

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Stamkos scored his first goal since having right knee surgery last November and the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-4 on Thursday night.

''I knew it was a matter of time, so I wasn't losing any sleep over it,'' Stamkos said. ''I'm just happy to be playing hockey again. Glad to be a part of some wins here.''

Stamkos made it 3-1 with a power-play goal at 3:49 of the second period from the low left circle. The Lightning star previously scored Nov. 15 at Detroit, the same game that he had a season-ending lateral meniscus tear in the knee.

Stamkos entered with five assists in three games this season. He tied Vincent Lecavalier for the Lightning team record with 112 power-play goals.

''You see him getting stronger and stronger,'' Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper said.

Slater Koekkoek got his first two NHL goals, and Victor Hedman and Nikita Kucherov also scored for the Lightning, who have won three of four. Alex Killorn had four assists, while Andrei Vasilevskiy made 36 saves.

Pittsburgh got goals from Jake Guentzel, Conor Sheary, Bryan Rust and Matt Hunwick. Antti Niemi, who allowed four goals on 13 shots over 9:16 against Chicago on Oct. 5 in his Penguins debut, stopped 29 shots.

''It's not fun to give up five goals and lose a game, but there was lots of good things,'' Niemi said.

After Stamkos' score, Sheary and Kucherov traded goals in the second. Rust scored on the power play to cut the deficit to 4-3 with 5:36 to go in the period.

Koekkoek got his first goal, coming in his 43rd game, 6:07 into the first. His second extended the lead to 5-3 late in the second.

Hunwick got Pittsburgh within 5-4 at 10:01 of the third.

Hedman put Tampa Bay up 2-1 on a power-play goal from just inside the blue line with one-tenth of a second left in the first period.

Guentzel tied it at 1 four seconds after a Pittsburgh power play ended midway through the first. The Penguins had three man-advantage goals in a 3-2 win Wednesday night at Washington.

''We don't want to be a team that trades chance for chance,'' Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. ''We've got to be a team that controls territory and momentum.''

Kris Letang assisted on Guentzel's goal and joined Paul Coffey (332) as the only Pittsburgh defenseman to reach 300 assists.

Both Pittsburgh stars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin were held pointless. Crosby entered with at least a point in 15 of his last 16 games against Tampa Bay, while Malkin was held without a point by the Lightning for just second time in 16 games.

Crosby had six shots and Malkin one.

NOTES: Pittsburgh will play its second and final game at Tampa Bay on Oct. 21. ... Lightning C Cedric Paquette didn't play due to an undisclosed injury.

UP NEXT

Penguins: Return home to play Florida on Saturday night.

Lightning: Host St. Louis on Saturday night.

---

More AP hockey: https://apnews.com/tag/NHLhockey

Copyright 2018 by STATS LLC.
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