Three Stars: Kessel, Crosby lead Penguins in Game 3 win
The Penguins took the a 2–1 lead in the Eastern Conference finals after defeating the Tampa Bay Lightning 4–2 on Wednesday night.
Phil Kessel and Carl Hagelin each had a goal and an assist, while Sidney Crosby scored his second goal in two games. Game 4 is set for Friday night in Tampa.
Here is who stood out in Game 3:
Phil Kessel, Pittsburgh Penguins
Speaking after his team got its doors blown off in Game 3, Lightning head coach Jon Cooper tipped his cap to Kessel.
“He doesn’t get near the respect he deserves,” Cooper said.
If that was true coming into these playoffs, it won’t be much longer. The flashy winger continued his brilliant spring with a goal and an assist to lead the Penguins to a convincing win. He made a brilliant play on Hagelin’s opening goal, picking off an errant pass and racing down the ice before banking a shot off the pads of Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy for an easy tap-in.
He extended Pittsburgh’s lead early in the second, one-timing a pass from Nick Bonino that beat Vasilevskiy high glove. The goal was his seventh of the playoffs and his 16th point, as Kessel leads the team in both categories.
Andrei Vasilevskiy, Tampa Bay Lightning
If this is the last we see of the rookie in these playoffs, it won’t be a reflection on his performance. Vasilevskiy was a brick wall through the first two periods, stopping the first 30 shots he faced before the Pens finally put one by him on a rebound/blown coverage combo. He ended the night with 44 saves, giving him 107 stops on 115 shots in his three games of relief. His teammates owe him an apology for hanging him out to dry like that.
Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins
Another superlative performance from the captain, who was all over the puck during Wednesday’s game. He scored the eventual game winner on a third period power play, his second goal in two games, and landed six shots on net. Game 3 was Crosby’s second consecutive game recording six shots, marking the first time he’s managed that in the playoffs since 2009 (h/t to Pens stat guru Bob Grove).