Pens overwhelm 2-time defending champion Bolts in season opener

Bill Wippert / National Hockey League / Getty

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Tristan Jarry had 26 saves, Danton Heinen and Brian Boyle scored early second-period goals, and the short-handed Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning 6-2 in the regular-season opener on Tuesday night.

Dominik Simon, Teddy Blueger, Bryan Rust and Evan Rodrigues also scored, and Kris Letang had two assists for the Penguins, who played without injured stars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. The final three Pittsburgh goals were into an empty net.

Tampa Bay got goals from Anthony Cirelli and Andrew Killorn, and Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 29 shots.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman was in attendance as Tampa Bay unveiled its 2020-21 Stanley Cup banner during a pregame ceremony. The Lightning have won two consecutive titles following pandemic-impacted and abbreviated regular seasons.

Jarry turned aside Brayden Point’s low slot shot during the game’s first power play midway through the second.

Heinen and Boyle put the Penguins up 2-0 with goals in the first 4:11 of the second.

Jeff Carter stole Vasilevskiy’s clearing attempt behind the net and set up Heinen’s goal 12 seconds in. Boyle, who signed a $750,000, one-year contract before the game after coming to training camp on a tryout offer, scored from the low slot at 4:11. The 12-year veteran last played with Florida in 2019-20.

Simon made it 3-0 when his long-range shot eluded Vasilevskiy with 8:28 left in the third. It was his first goal since Feb. 2, 2020.

Lightning coach Jon Cooper pulled Vasilevskiy with 6 minutes left and it paid off when Cirelli scored at 14:23. However, with Vasilevskiy off the ice again, Blueger picked up an empty-netter 30 seconds later.

Killorn got another Lightning goal with the extra attacker but Rodrigues and Rust got the Penguins' second and third empty-net goals.

Pittsburgh outshot the Lightning 14-7 in the first period. Simon had his in-close chance stopped during a 2-on-1 by Vasilevskiy, and Rodrigues lost control of the puck on a breakaway.

TWO IN A ROW GATHERING

Chicago senior advisor Scotty Bowman was at the game. Bowman (Detroit 1997-98), Lightning coach Jon Cooper and Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan (2016-17) are the last three NHL coaches to win back to back Stanley Cups. Bowman (Montreal 1976-79) and Al Arbour (1980-83) are the last two to win three straight championships when both had streaks of four consecutive titles.

RECORD-TYING WIN

Sullivan tied Dan Bylsma for the most regular-season wins by a Pittsburgh coach with 252.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Penguins: Crosby (wrist) is practicing, as are LW Jake Guentzel (Covid-19) and LW Zach Aston-Reese (Covid-19). … Malkin (knee) was placed on long-term IL. … D Mike Matheson (lower body) was scratched.

Lightning: D Cal Foote (finger) and C Gemel Smith (lower body) didn’t play.

UP NEXT

Penguins: Wrap up a two-game trip at Florida on Thursday night.

Lightning: At Detroit on Thursday night.

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More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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Pens overwhelm 2-time defending champion Bolts in season opener
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