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game recap

Driedger makes 31 saves, Panthers shut down Penguins

Hoffman, Vatrano each has goal, assist for Florida, which has won seven of 10

by Wes Crosby / NHL.com Independent Correspondent

Hoffman fires wrist shot home

FLA@PIT: Hoffman roofs wrist shot from outside circle

Mike Hoffman receives a pass from Frank Vatrano and wires a wrist shot top shelf for a goal to extend the Panthers lead to 3-1 in the 3rd

  • 00:33 •

PITTSBURGH -- Chris Driedger made 31 saves, and the Florida Panthers defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-1 on Sunday for their first win at PPG Paints Arena in nearly six years.

Frank Vatrano and Mike Hoffman each had a goal and an assist for the Panthers (22-15-5), who were 0-6-2 in their past eight games at Pittsburgh since winning 5-1 on Jan. 20, 2014. They are 7-3-0 in their past 10 games after losing four of their previous six.

"I liked how we played in the third period with a lead," Panthers coach Joel Quenneville said. "Second period wasn't bad, but I think in the third period we played to score and played well, played smart. ... I think all the lines were playing the right way. It was good four-line rotation."

 

[WATCH: All Panthers vs. Penguins highlights]

 

Tristan Jarry made 31 saves for Pittsburgh (25-12-5), which entered on a five-game point streak (4-0-1) and had been 8-1-1 in the past 10 games.

After making 29 saves in a 3-2 overtime loss to the San Jose Sharks on Thursday, Jarry lost a second consecutive start for the first time since losing three straight from Oct. 19-Nov. 4. 

Video: FLA@PIT: Vatrano follows up rebound in front for goal

The Penguins were 16-1-0 in their previous 17 home games against the Panthers.

"I don't think we had the juice that we have had in a number of the games, in most of the games this year," Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. "But I think one of the challenges of this league is the grind of the schedule and good teams just have to understand how to manage those games. I thought we could have done a better job in certain circumstances in not putting ourselves in difficult positions where we had to defend when we were tired, or things of that nature."

Vatrano put Florida ahead 1-0 at 2:28 of the first period when he held off Penguins defenseman Kris Letang before shooting one-handed off Jarry, collecting the rebound and scoring on a wrist shot.

Jared McCann took a backhand pass from Dominik Simon for a snap shot from the slot, making it 1-1 at 3:52.

"I feel like we had some good opportunities tonight, but we have to be better defensively," McCann said. "That's what cost us."

Brett Connolly gave the Panthers a 2-1 lead with a wrist shot glove-side through traffic at 10:44.

Jarry kept it 2-1 after Aaron Ekblad received the puck in the left face-off circle with the goalie at the right post. Jarry pushed to his right, making it over in time to stop Ekblad's shot with the shaft of his stick 4:11 into the second period.

"It's just something where I was trying to watch what was behind me and try to put everything I could over there when the puck was thrown over there," Jarry said.

Hoffman made it 3-1 on a snap shot from the high slot at 8:52 of the third period, and Evgenii Dadonov extended the lead to 4-1, scoring into an empty net at 17:32.

Driedger won for the fourth time in five starts this season after making 11 saves in relief of Sergei Bobrovsky on Saturday. Bobrovsky allowed three goals on seven shots before being pulled in a 3-2 loss to the Buffalo Sabres.

"It was great, honestly. I was happy with the way we were able to shut it down in the third period," Driedger said. "Playing with a lead like that, good teams find ways to win. I thought we did everything that we needed to do in the third just to shut it down. Had a couple goals there, obviously, and played well defensively."

Video: FLA@PIT: Connolly nets Trocheck feed through traffic

 

They said it

"It was good that we played a full 60 minutes. It's been an issue of ours, closing out games in the third period, coming out a little bit flat when we have a lead. Tonight we came out in the third and played just as well as we did in the first and second. Had a good closeout." -- Panthers forward Vincent Trocheck

"We definitely had our chances to kind of stay in the game and try to win that game. [Jarry] made a couple big saves for us and we had some chances to score but, unfortunately, they won that one." -- Penguins forward Bryan Rust

 

Need to know

Sullivan did not disclose if center Sidney Crosby would travel with the Penguins for a three-game road trip that starts Tuesday. Pittsburgh is 15-6-4 without Crosby, who is recovering from core muscle surgery. ... Penguins forward Sam Lafferty missed a second straight game with an illness. ... The Penguins split the back to back. They defeated the Montreal Canadiens 3-2 in overtime on Saturday. … Trocheck played his 400th NHL game. ... The Panthers allowed fewer than three goals for the first time since Dec. 21. Entering Sunday, they were 3-3-0 in six games since. … Panthers forward Jonathan Huberdeau had his 40th assist of the season. He has 20 points (six goals, 14 assists) in the past 10 games. 

 

What's next

Panthers: Host the Arizona Coyotes on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET; FS-F, FS-A PLUS, NHL.TV)

Penguins: At the Vegas Golden Knights on Tuesday (10 p.m. ET; ESPN+, SN, SN1, ATTSN-RM, ATTSN-PT, NHL.TV)

Video: Driedger leads Panthers past Penguins

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