TAMPA, Fla. -- Two nights earlier, Pittsburgh was in overtime and a goal away from a 2-0 series deficit. On Wednesday night, the Penguins pulled away to a 4-2 road win in Game 3 over the Tampa Bay Lightning, taking a 2-1 series lead in the Eastern Conference final.
"It's first to four. We know that," Penguins center Nick Bonino said. "We lost the first game and there was no panic here. They're down 2-1 and I'm sure there's not a lot of panic over there. These are two good teams -- that's a team with a lot of playoff experience and we're going to expect their best Friday."
Pittsburgh attacked Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy with 21 shots in the second period alone, scoring four goals in the final 20:10 of the game. The Penguins pulled away with a 4-on-3 power play goal from Sidney Crosby, his fifth goal of the playoffs, making it 3-1 with 9:10 left in the third to give a cushion to goalie Matt Murray, who made 22 saves on the night.
"Especially in the second period, you could see how we had the puck and were getting our chances," said Penguins winger Carl Hagelin, who opened the scoring with 10 seconds left in the second period. "It was just a matter of time before the puck got in."
The Penguins added a fourth goal with 6:48 remaining, as a loose puck went directly to Pittsburgh's Chris Kunitz, who scored his second goal of the postseason. Tampa Bay added a late goal by Ondrej Palat with 1:44 left in the game.
The Lightning now go into Friday's Game 4 needing a home win just to even the series back up.
"The message would have been a lot different if this was a best-of-three," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "It's actually a best of seven. We've been through three playoffs together and we've done it every different way. To play in the playoffs, you have to have a short memory."
The 48 shots allowed by Tampa Bay is the team's most ever in a regulation playoff game -- the previous record was only 40. Tampa Bay gave up 40-plus shots in back-to-back games for the first time since October 2011; the Lightning allowed 40 shots in a game just three times in the regular season, once against Pittsburgh.
"(Vasilevskiy) is playing great, and we're not playing at his level right now," Lightning defenseman Anton Stralman said. "He's holding down the fort by himself."
Just as Pittsburgh had scored for a 2-0 lead on a goal by Phil Kessel with 14:44 left in the third period, the Lightning answered just 14 seconds later, with Tampa Bay's Tyler Johnson scoring off a drop pass by Nikita Kucherov to make it a 2-1 game. Johnson got his fifth goal of the playoff and brought the home crowd back to life.
Kessel, who had the assist on Pittsburgh's first goal, scored off a pass from behind the net from Bonino, who got his team-best 10th assist of the playoffs on Kessel's team-best seventh goal of the postseason.
Crosby's goal was set up by a rush of three penalties in 47 seconds -- Tampa Bay's Ondrej Palat and Pittsburgh's Kris Letang went to the penalty box for roughing, and then Lightning defenseman Braydon Coburn was called for elbowing, setting up the 4-on-3 power play. It was just the third power-play opportunity of the game, with each team missing on one earlier chance
With 10 seconds left in the second period, Pittsburgh broke a scoreless tie, as Kessel intercepted a Jonathan Drouin pass with his skate, broke ahead down the right side, and Hagelin scored on a rebound off Kessel's shot. The goal, Hagelin's fifth in the playoffs, gave Pittsburgh a 1-0 lead on their 31st shot of the game.
The Lightning had outshot the Penguins 7-2 early and 12-10 at the end of the first period, but the Penguins dominated the second period, outshooting the Lightning by a 21-6 margin.
Vasilevskiy was in his third game taking over for Lightning starter Ben Bishop, who left Game 1 with a lower-body injury and hasn't played since, though he could return for Friday night's Game 4 in Tampa. The Lightning have played the entire postseason without their leading scorer from the regular season, center Steven Stamkos, who remains out after surgery to fix a blood clot near his collarbone.
NOTES: The Lightning got RW Ryan Callahan, who missed Game 2 with the flu in Pittsburgh, back healthy and part of their starting lineup. Callahan has only one goal and two assists in the postseason but has neutralized opponents' top lines well. With Callahan back, D Slater Koekkoek was a healthy scratch, along with D Nikita Nesterov, RW Erik Condra and D Matt Taormina. The Lightning saw the home return of D Anton Stralman, who missed the first two rounds of the playoffs recovering from a broken leg and returned for Game 2. ... D Olli Maatta was a healthy scratch for Pittsburgh, which opted for D Justin Schultz for the second game in a row -- Schultz has played in only four games in the playoffs before Wednesday.