PITTSBURGH – Vincent Lecavalier scored a goal and set up two others and the Tampa Bay Lightning extended Pittsburgh’s season-opening winless streak to a franchise record-tying six games by winning 3-1.

Despite rebuilding what was the NHL’s worst team in 2003-04 with rookie Sidney Crosby and a number of veteran stars, the Penguins – the league’s only winless team – are 0-2-4 during only the second winless six-game start in team history, The other came when they were 0-3-3 in 1969-70, the franchise’s third season.

Crosby set up Ziggy Palffy’s slap shot from the top of the slot in the third for the Penguins’ only goal, and the 18-year-old rookie now has at least one point in all six Penguins games, with two goals and seven assists.

But Crosby contributed to the flurry of Penguins penalties that kept Tampa Bay on the power play for much of the Lightning’s decisive two-goal second period. He drew a slashing penalty at 12:17 and then complicated it by complaining, and was also given an unsportsmanlike penalty that gave the Lightning a four-minute power play.

The Lightning, ending a two-game losing streak, didn’t score during that man advantage, but Ruslan Fedotenko had already put them up 2-0 with a power play goal of 5:45 of the period – only the Lightning’s third power play goal in 37 opportunities this season.

The Penguins were short-handed so much during the period, coach Eddie Olczyk used some of his most-used forwards, including Mark Recchi and Palffy on his penalty-killing unit. Tampa Bay outshot Pittsburgh 18-3 in the period and 30-21 overall.

Lecavalier made it 3-0 with 14 seconds left in the period with his third of the season, wristing a shot past goalie Marc-Andre Fleury after Vinny Prospal eluded defenseman Sergei Gonchar and made a crossice pass onto Lecavalier’s stick. Lecavalier has 17 goals and seven assists in 24 career games against Pittsburgh.

Prospal also got his third of the season midway through the first period, snapping a shot past Fleury after Gonchar couldn’t clear the puck out of his own zone. Prospal has eight goals in 26 games against the Penguins, who have allowed a league-high 10 goals in the first period.

Fedotenko’s goal was his first since getting both Lightning goals in their 2-1 victory over Calgary in Game 7 of the 2004 Stanley Cup finals.

Lightning goalie Sean Burke stopped 20 of 21 shots for the victory, starting even though John Grahame – 7-1 against Pittsburgh – usually starts against the Penguins. Fleury made 27 saves.

Notes: The Penguins were coming off four consecutive overtime games. They have never played five in a row. … Fleury started again despite being pulled during a 6-5 overtime loss to Philadelphia on Friday, when he gave up four goals on 20 shots. … Tampa Bay was 4-0 against Pittsburgh in 2003-04 and hasn’t lost in Mellon Arena since Nov. 2, 2002. … Pittsburgh has been outscored 10-5 in the first period.

AP-ES-10-15-05 2208EDT


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