Even on what wasn't shaping up as one of their better nights, the Pittsburgh Penguins still had confidence entering the third period. Of course, the defending Stanley Cup champions also had Sidney Crosby on their side.
Crosby scored twice in the third period -- once on the power play and again while shorthanded with 3:19 remaining to force overtime -- then added the only goal in a shootout as the Penguins won their seventh in a row by rallying for a 3-2 victory over the Florida Panthers at Mellon Arena on Friday night.
''We struggled in the first half, but we were able to rebound,'' said Crosby, who played his 300th NHL game and has 407 career points. ''We stuck with things, and that shows a lot.''
Backup goaltender Brent Johnson stopped 27 shots and all three Florida shootout attempts as Pittsburgh improved to 9-1-0 this season.
"We've got a mentality in here that, we go out for the third, even if we're down we have a chance every night," Johnson said.
Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma said it's not his team's intention to play from behind and rely on its offense for a late bail-out.
"But what we do talk about is playing a way that, in the third period, the ice should be tilted in our favor," he said.
Steven Reinprecht scored a pair of first-period goals for the Panthers and Tomas Vokoun was stellar, making 41 saves. But Crosby solved him in the second round of the penalty-shot tiebreaker and Johnson made that hold up, stopping Reinprecht, Ville Koistinen and Nathan Horton.
Reinprecht, coming off goals in consecutive games against Philadelphia and Boston, connected twice in a span of 2:37 during the first period. He gave the Panthers a 1-0 lead on the power play at 12:39 and beat Johnson again with 4:44 left.
|Season||Defending Cup Champion||Record through 10 games|
|08-09||Detroit Red Wings||7-1-2|
|05-06||Tampa Bay Lightning||5-3-2|
|03-04||New Jersey Devils||5-3-2|
|02-03||Detroit Red Wings||6-3-1|
|00-01||New Jersey Devils||6-2-2|
Each team had 22 shots through two periods, with Vokoun stopping every one he faced, but the Panthers took a pair of penalties in the opening minute of the third. They killed off a 5-on-3 advantage that lasted 1:33, but one second after Gregory Campbell stepped out of the box Crosby got the Penguins on the board with a power-play goal at 2:14.
''The effort's good, but effort doesn't get you two points,'' Florida defenseman Keith Ballard said. ''We were kind of dumb in the third period. We took too many penalties and stayed in our end the whole time. … In the third, they pick it up a little bit and it's almost like we just kind of clammed up just trying to hang.''
The Penguins thought they had the tying goal with 6:03 remaining when Bill Guerin swatted a loose puck past Vokoun. But the officials immediately disallowed the goal and a video review confirmed Crosby had gloved the puck out of the air before it landed on Guerin's stick.
It didn't matter after Evgeni Malkin cruised down the left side on a Pittsburgh penalty kill, went around the net and found an unchecked Crosby cutting through the slot for a quick shot that tied the score. It was the first shorthanded goal of his career.
The Panthers, now 2-5-1, have just 17 non-shootout goals and continue to struggle to put the puck in the net.
''We couldn't get a third goal,'' coach Peter DeBoer said. ''We had opportunities, I thought maybe four or five tonight; some 2-on-1s, some chances around the net, but we have to find a way to get more goals.''
-- Brian Hunter, NHL.com
Material from wire services and team broadcast media were used in this report.
|PPG - Steve Reinprecht (3) ASST: Cory Stillman (2), Bryan McCabe (3)|
1 - 0 FLA
|Steve Reinprecht (4) ASST: Nathan Horton (1), Cory Stillman (3)|
2 - 0 FLA
|PPG - Sidney Crosby (5) ASST: Alex Goligoski (6), Evgeni Malkin (8)|
2 - 1 FLA
|SHG - Sidney Crosby (6) ASST: Evgeni Malkin (9)|
2 - 2 Tie
|1||K. Letang||S. Reinprecht|
|2||S. Crosby||V. Koistinen|
|3||B. Guerin||N. Horton|
|Martin Skoula Interference against Dominic Moore|
|Alex Goligoski Cross checking against Kamil Kreps|
|David Booth Interference against Brooks Orpik|
|Keith Ballard Fighting (maj) against Chris Kunitz|
|Chris Kunitz Fighting (maj) against Keith Ballard|
|Jordan Staal Interference against Radek Dvorak|
|Nathan Horton Interference on goalkeeper against Brent Johnson|
|Gregory Campbell Hooking against Evgeni Malkin|
|Rostislav Olesz Hooking against Evgeni Malkin|
|Cory Stillman Interference on goalkeeper against Brent Johnson|
|Matt Cooke Hi-sticking against Dmitry Kulikov|
|Dmitry Kulikov Hi-sticking against Matt Cooke|
|David Booth Closing hand on puck|
|Brooks Orpik Interference against Cory Stillman|