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Panthers deal Penguins fifth straight loss

by Brian Hunter
The defending Stanley Cup champions have hit the skids.

Radek Dvorak recorded the hat trick and Tomas Vokoun stopped 46 shots as the Florida Panthers rallied with six unanswered goals to defeat the Pittsburgh Penguins 6-2 on Sunday at BankAtlantic Center. Pittsburgh has lost a season-high five straight.

Jordan Leopold, Rostislav Olesz and Steven Reinprecht also scored for the Panthers, who lost the previous three meetings this season with the Penguins, all by 3-2 scores either in overtime or the shootout.

''We had some tough luck against them. They scored some last-minutes goals, but today we got the breaks,'' Vokoun said.

Tyler Kennedy and Sidney Crosby scored as Pittsburgh built a 2-0 lead midway through the first period, but it was all Florida after Leopold lit the lamp with 1:03 remaining.

"I don't think we ever felt like we were getting outplayed," Crosby said. "Even when they scored their goals, they'd make a good play and it'd be in the back of our net, but they never really had momentum. We felt like we were able to get momentum throughout the whole game. They got those two quick goals, but they were two shifts, that was it."

Dvorak and Olesz scored 62 seconds apart late in the second to turn the Panthers' deficit into a lead heading into the third. Evgeni Malkin coughed the puck up in the Penguins' zone before Dvorak walked in and beat Marc-Andre Fleury with 2:25 left, then Olesz put home the rebound of a Bryan Allen shot.

They added on from there, as Reinprecht picked up his 13th of the season at the 8:11 mark and Dvorak followed with his second of the game with 6:52 left. With the Panthers killing off a four-minute high-sticking penalty to Cory Stillman, Dvorak completed his third career hat trick by scoring shorthanded into an empty net with 2.4 seconds remaining.

''We said to ourselves after the first period that we have step up. That was not the game we wanted to play,'' Dvorak said.

Pittsburgh assistant coach Mike Yeo missed the game after falling ill following Saturday's game in Tampa Bay. Yeo spent Sunday in a Florida hospital.

"He wasn't feeling well during the game," Bylsma said. "We had him checked out by doctors. The tests were fine after the game. Again this morning, he was not feeling well after waking up and doing some work. We sent him to the hospital for preliminary tests. Those results are normal.

"He wanted to coach in the game, but we thought it was important he continue to be monitored by doctors. We expect him to be released (Monday) morning from the hospital here and have him return to Pittsburgh then."

Material from wire services and team broadcast and online media was used in this report.
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