The Pens took the lead for good 31 seconds after a Martin St. Louis goal had tied it when Kennedy netted the rebound from a Letang point shot. Following a big offensive zone face-off win, Letang put a puck on net that handcuffed Lightning goaltender Dwayne Roloson and was shovelled home by Kennedy.
Arron Asham and Maxim Talbot scored the other goals for the Penguins but the team’s power play continued to struggle without Sidney Crosby and is now 0-for-15 in the series. There still is no date set for his return.
Marc-Andre Fleury made 25 saves for Pittsburgh and the team will look to take a 3-1 lead in Game 4 on Wednesday night in Tampa.
St.Louis had two goals, both of them on the power play, and Roloson made 27 saves for the Lightning.
Talbot opened the scoring on a delayed penalty with a wrist shot into the top corner of the net short-side on Roloson. Steve Downie made a questionable hit as Pens defenceman Ben Lovejoy circled his own net. Downie left his feet and could possibly face disciplinary action by the NHL since he would be considered a repeat offender.
Asham scored 45 seconds later to put the Pens up 2-0 with the assists going to Michael Rupp and Letang. It was his team-leading second goal and third point of the series.
With nine minutes remaining in the first period, Simon Gagne was elbowed in the head in front of the net by Chris Kunitz, putting the regular season’s best penalty killing team up against the best power play in the east. Gagne remained in the game but the elbow appeared to be a deliberate head shot and another possible suspension will likely be discussed by the NHL.
Ryan Malone went to the dressing room in the first period after a collision with Pens forward James Neal but returned before the end of the period. He appeared to be affected by the injury but played the remainder of the game.
St.Louis cut the lead to one with Alex Kovalev in the box for a questionable goaltender interference penalty. Fleury made a number of saves but St.Louis stuck with it and buried the rebound for his second of the post-season.
Tampa almost tied the game with a little over a minute left in the a physical first period as Sean Bergenheim received a Malone pass from behind the net but Fleury was up to the challenge and preserved the 2-1 lead going into the break.
The teams continued to exchange scoring chances end-to-end in the second period, neither being able to solve the opposing netminder. The best chance went to the Lightning on a 3-on-2 but Dominic Moore could not bury the Malone centering attempt.
With three and a half minutes left in the second, Pascal Dupuis narrowly missed the far side of the net with a backhand and Downie flipped the puck over the ice for a delay of game penalty. The Penguins futility with the man-advantage continued as they once again could not solve Roloson.
Tampa tied the game 2-2 when St.Louis scored his second of the game with 2:12 into the third period. Vincent Lecavalier deflected the puck to his wide open linemate in the slot who made no mistake, earning him his third marker in as many games. However, the celebration was spoiled by Kennedy’s goal before they could finish announcing St.Louis’ on the PA system.
Roloson gave the Bolts a chance to stay in the game, making a highlight reel pad save on Chris Connor. He appeared to be down and out but managed to keep the puck out of the net denying Connor his first career playoff goal.
With their goalie pulled, the Lightning pressured Pittsburgh but despite a scramble in front of Fleury in the dying seconds, they could not score and the game ended 3-2.