PITTSBURGH (AP) – The Tampa Bay Lightning are one win away from a return trip to the Stanley Cup Final.
Tyler Johnson deflected Jason Garrison’s wrist shot past Marc-Andre Fleury’s glove 53 seconds into overtime to give the Lightning a 4-3 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals on Sunday night to take a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series.
Game 6 is Tuesday night in Tampa.
Nikita Kucherov scored twice to boost his postseason total to an NHL-best 11 and Alex Killorn picked up his fifth of the playoffs as the Lightning handed the Penguins consecutive losses for the first time since January. Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 31 shots.
Brian Dumoulin, Chris Kunitz and Patric Hornqvist scored for the Penguins, who lost for the first time all season when leading after two periods. Marc-Andre Fleury made 21 saves in his first start since March and couldn’t get his hands on Johnson’s redirect.
Fleury played the role of dutiful backup when coach Mike Sullivan stuck with rookie Matt Murray even after Fleury recovered from a concussion sustained on March 31. Sullivan turned to the franchise’s all-time winningest goaltender for the third period of Game 4 after Murray surrendered four goals and stuck with Fleury after watching him turn aside all seven shots he faced as the Penguins nearly came all the way back.
Back in his customary starting spot for the first time in 52 days, Fleury appeared to be plenty fresh. He sprinted in full gear onto the Consol Energy Center ice for his 100th career playoff appearance and was his usually steady self -including a split save on Johnson in the second period that few of his brethren can make. He was helped by teammates more than willing to get on their bellies. The Penguins blocked 22 shots before they even made it to the goal crease and continued their series-long dominance in creating pressure at the other end.