Marc-Andre Fleury made 32 saves for the shutout as the Pittsburgh Penguins took game one 3-0 at home against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Wednesday night at the CONSOL Energy Center.
Fleury saw a good chunk of action early in the game but wasn’t tested too much in the second and third periods as the Penguins outskated and outhustled Tampa Bay all game long.
With the Pens pressuring, Kovalev finally broke the scoreless draw on a one-timer 6:05 into the third period and Asham scored on a wraparound 18 seconds later to put them up 2-0.
Dwayne Roloson got the start in goal for the Lightning and made 37 saves, keeping his team in the game as much as he could. Roloson posted an 18-12-4 record since being traded to Tampa Bay from the New York Islanders on Jan. 1.
Lightning sniper Steven Stamkos, second in goals during the regular season with 45, was held without a shot until 2:41 remaining in the third period and was completely ineffective.
Pittsburgh flexed their muscles early in the game. Pens defenceman Brooks Orpik crushed Stamkos in the corner within the first two minutes and may have knocked the young superstar off his game.
Fleury made an acrobatic save robbing Ryan Malone halfway through the first period as the Lightning out-chanced Pittsburgh early on in the game.
The second period saw more playoff style, end-to-end, hard-hitting action as both teams exchanged scoring chances but neither willing to make the first mistake.
Pittsburgh saw its best scoring chances come from Jordan Staal on an early power play but he was unable to capitalize as Roloson held strong making save after save.
The Penguins poured it on in the closing minutes of the second, however the game remained tied 0-0 despite Pittsburgh outshooting Tampa Bay 17-8 in the period.
Roloson could only hold on for so long as the Penguins were able to seize momentum, scoring two goals seconds apart early in the third and an empty-netter by Kunitz sealed the win.
Team captain Sidney Crosby, out since Jan.5 with a concussion, skated with the team on Tuesday during non-contact drills. The date for his return has not been released by Penguins management but it is doubtful he will see action for the remainder of the series since it was only his second practice since he was cleared to skate.