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Lightning hang on for 4-3 win over Penguins, even series at two

The Tampa Bay Lightning held on for a 4-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins Friday night to even their conference finals series at two.

Tampa struck early when Ryan Callahan tipped in a Victor Hedman shot 27 seconds into the game, sending the Amalie Arena crowd into a frenzy. Pittsburgh tried to fight back, but the Lightning continued to counter.

The Penguins’ best chance came late in the period when Sidney Crosby found Kris Letang in the slot, but Andrei Vasilevskiy’s pad denied his backhand opportunity.

Not long after that big save the Lightning doubled their lead following a Penguins' defensive zone mixup, which allowed Andrej Sustr to slip in through the backdoor to finish off a Nikita Kucherov pass.

The Lightning’s 2-0 lead was doubled by the end of 40 minutes with goals from Jonathan Drouin and Tyler Johnson. Pittsburgh took another hit during the period when defenseman Trevor Daley suffered a leg injury going for a puck along the boards with Callahan.

Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan decided in the third period to give Marc-Andre Fleury his first game action since March 31 with his team down 4-0. Fleury, who was sidelined with a concussion, would stop all seven shots he faced as his teammates attempted to claw back at the deficit.

After Phil Kessel’s eighth goal of the playoffs snapped Vasilevskiy’s shutout bid, Evgeni Malkin and Chris Kunitz scored 1:55 apart midway through the third to cut the lead to 4-3. But despite the desperate pressure to even the score, the Penguins couldn’t find a tying goal as Tampa held on to send the series back to Pittsburgh knotted 2-2.

It was a big response by the Lightning, one they needed to keep themselves in the series.

"As much as we were disappointed in Game 3, we had to turn the page. We did that tonight," said Lightning head coach Jon Cooper.

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Sean Leahy is the associate editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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