National Hockey League
Preview
Pittsburgh at Tampa Bay
When: 8:00 PM ET, Tuesday, May 24, 2016
Where: Amalie Arena, Tampa, Florida

The Pittsburgh Penguins have lost back-to-back games for the first time since mid-January and a third straight defeat would put an abrupt end to their season. Pittsburgh looks to send the Eastern Conference finals to a deciding contest on home ice and avoid elimination when it visits the Tampa Bay Lightning for Game 6 on Tuesday night.

Penguins’ All-Star center Evgeni Malkin is confident despite seeing his team cough up a two-goal lead in a 4-3 overtime loss on Sunday, telling reporters “I believe in my team. I believe in myself. We’re coming back to Pittsburgh (for Game 7) for sure.” The Penguins have been doing a good job focusing on the next challenge after a loss, according to coach Mike Sullivan, and must find a way to slow down Nikita Kucherov after his two goals and an assist Sunday gave him seven points in the last three games. The Lightning sat in the same position last season before losing Game 6 at home against the New York Rangers and going on the road to win the series, but hope to make it easier this time. “I think our guys are doing a heck of a job this year handling all sorts of situations, whether it’s injuries, being down, being up. … the list goes on,” Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper told reporters. “The guys have really matured as a group on how to win hockey games.”

TV: 8 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network, CBC, TVAS

ABOUT THE PENGUINS: Sullivan’s two changes for Game 5 did not work out as forward Beau Bennett was a minus-2 after replacing Conor Sheary and goalie Marc-Andre Fleury allowed four goals on 25 shots in his first start since March 31. Sullivan told reporters Monday he would make a decision on game day of whether to switch back to Matt Murray (9-4, .923 save percentage) in goal. With Trevor Daley lost for the season due to a broken ankle that he sustained in Game 4, Olli Maatta took his spot on defense and contributed an assist while posting a plus-2 rating Sunday in 17:21 of ice time.

ABOUT THE LIGHTNING: Tyler Johnson suffered a cut on his face when he was hit by a puck in pregame warm-ups before scoring the winner Game 4. He tallied for the third consecutive contest Sunday after defenseman Jason Garrison’s shot caromed into the net off his back in overtime. “He’s a winner, that’s what winners do,” Cooper told reporters. “They don’t back down.” Vezina finalist Ben Bishop (left leg) won’t likely be back for Game 6, which means Andrei Vasilevskiy (.925 save percentage in series) gets his fifth consecutive start in net and defenseman Anton Stralman told reporters, “He’s been terrific. Unbelievable.”

OVERTIME

1. Kucherov has 11 goals in the 2016 playoffs – one better than San Jose C Joe Pavelski for the NHL lead going into Monday – and is a plus-24 in 42 career postseason games.

2. Pittsburgh RW Phil Kessel was held off the scoresheet Sunday to snap his six-game point streak and captain C Sidney Crosby has been blanked in two straight.

3. Tampa Bay D Victor Hedman will set the franchise record for playoff games with his 64th on Tuesday, passing Martin St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier.

PREDICTION: Lightning 4, Penguins 2
Stats and Records
Team Comparison
  W/L Strk Home Away Day Night Div
Pittsburgh 58-30-6-4 L2 32-13-2-3 26-17-4-1 11-6-0-0 47-24-6-4 27-11-3-0
Tampa Bay 57-34-3-3 W2 31-15-1-2 26-19-2-1 9-1-0-0 48-33-3-3 19-13-1-2
Last Meeting
Pittsburgh Tampa Bay
Date Away Home Shots Saves PP Shots Saves PP
5/22/16 TB 4 (OT) PIT 3 34 21 0-3 25 31 0-3
Player Stats
Previous Matchup
Total Points Player  
Pittsburgh C. Kunitz 2
Tampa Bay N. Kucherov 3
Goals Player  
Pittsburgh B. Dumoulin 1
Tampa Bay N. Kucherov 2
Assists Player  
Pittsburgh C. Hagelin 1
Tampa Bay J. Garrison 1
Saves Player  
Pittsburgh M. Fleury 21
Tampa Bay A. Vasilevskiy 31
Season
Total Points Player  
Pittsburgh S. Crosby 102
Tampa Bay N. Kucherov 88
Goals Player  
Pittsburgh S. Crosby 43
Tampa Bay N. Kucherov 44
Assists Player  
Pittsburgh K. Letang 62
Tampa Bay V. Hedman 48
Saves Player  
Pittsburgh M. Fleury 1611
Tampa Bay B. Bishop 1901
Quickchart Matchup
Pittsburgh Off vs  Tampa Bay Def
2.98 GF
2.38 GA
33.5 Shots
29.5 Shots
62 PP
49 PK
Tampa Bay Off vs  Pittsburgh Def
2.77 GF
2.44 GA
29.2 Shots
29.8 Shots
53 PP
49 PK