PITTSBURGH - After being shuffled to the Wild's fourth line in the games before his trade, Jason Zucker found himself teamed up with superstar Sidney Crosby in his Penguins debut on Tuesday night.
But Yanni Gourde collected Brayden Point's cross-ice feed and ripped a shot to the short side over the right arm of Pittsburgh goaltender Matt Murray to give the Tampa Bay Lightning a 2-1 overtime victory.
Evgeni Malkin got his 18th goal for Pittsburgh and Murray finished with 36 saves but didn't get his right arm high enough fast enough to get a piece of Gourde's winner in the Penguins debut of Zucker, the winger who was acquired in a trade with the Wild on Monday.
Zucker played 15:26 in his first game with Pittsburgh.
The Penguins, who have been searching for a replacement for injured All-Star forward Jake Guentzel, moved aggressively to land Zucker. Pittsburgh sent forward Alex Galchenyuk, defensive prospect Calen Addison and a conditional 2020 first-round draft pick to the Wild in exchange for Zucker, a proven two-way player who can do a little bit of everything.
Zucker called his rushed move from Minneapolis to Pittsburgh “surreal” and acknowledged it was “bizarre" to pull on Penguins' black and yellow after spending his entire career with the Wild.
While his new teammates praised Zucker's skill and speed, Zucker believes he wasn't particularly sharp in his debut.
“I don't think I played very well tonight,” he said. “My hands were terrible. I pretty much mishandled every puck.”
Pittsburgh didn't exactly give Zucker time to get settled. In the span of a day he went from playing on the fourth line on a team with fading postseason hopes to serving on the top line with Crosby for a franchise where reaching the playoffs has been a given for well over a decade.
As steady as the Penguins have been through the first four-plus months of an injury ravaged season, they haven't been quite as spectacular as the Lightning.
Tampa Bay has been the NHL's best team since Christmas, a stretch that included a taut victory over Pittsburgh last week and a 2-1 overtime triumph at Columbus on Monday night. The victory over the Blue Jackets offered a small -- very small -- level of solace after Columbus stunned Tampa Bay in the opening round of the playoffs last spring.
“It's going to be tight hockey from here on in," Crosby said. "They're a team that's playing well right now. Not giving up a lot. We had our opportunities. Doesn't make it any better when you lose.”