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Panthers end Penguins' home winning streak

by Wes Crosby

PITTSBURGH -- The Florida Panthers handed the Pittsburgh Penguins their first home loss in over two months on Monday.

Drew Shore scored two goals and Scott Clemmensen made 35 saves to lead the Panthers to a 5-1 win at Consol Energy Center. Pittsburgh had not lost at Consol Energy Center since Nov. 13, when it suffered a 2-1 defeat to the Philadelphia Flyers.

Shore, who had four career goals entering the game, scored the first goal with 4:11 remaining in the opening period.

With Pittsburgh's top-ranked power-play unit (24.7 percent entering Monday) attempting to take advantage of a high-sticking penalty on Tom Gilbert, Shore scored a shorthanded goal. A shot from Evgeni Malkin slid around the end boards and sent Shore darting through the neutral zone on a 2-on-1. He elected to keep the puck and wristed a shot past Marc-Andre Fleury's glove.

Shore's goal was the second shorthanded goal the Penguins have surrendered in their past two games. Pittsburgh allowed a goal to Washington Capitals forward Brooks Laich while on a power play in the first period of their game Wednesday.

The win snapped a two-game skid for the Panthers (19-23-7). They will visit the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday.

"We wanted to treat this game like a playoff game," Shore said. "Obviously, our last two performances weren't very good. Obviously, they're one of the best teams in the League, so we knew they were going to come out hard and it feels good to get the win."

The second-year forward scored again with 6:26 left in the second to extend the Panthers' lead to 2-0. Forward Jesse Winchester, who returned from a broken hand that forced him to miss 14 games, fed Shore from behind Pittsburgh's net. Shore one-timed a wrist shot past Fleury for his third goal of the season.

Panthers interim coach Peter Horachek said he was impressed with how Shore along with other players elevated their game and said it was necessary in order to beat the Penguins.

"That's the way our team is made up. We need multiple people to put contributions on the board and multiple people scoring," Horachek said. "I asked them for 60 minutes and 200 feet, so I wanted them to play from our zone to their zone and we needed all lines going and all D going.

"To beat a good team like this, you have to have a team effort."

Dmitry Kulikov added a third Panthers goal 1:17 into the third period. Kulikov collected a shot from Winchester off the end boards and backhanded the puck past Fleury for a 3-1 Florida lead. The goal was Kulikov's second in as many games after scoring two goals in Florida's first 46 games of the season.

After a lengthy review, Jonathan Huberdeau was awarded his eighth goal of the season to give Florida a 4-1 lead with 6:10 remaining. Shawn Matthias scored 12 seconds later to extend the Panthers' lead to four goals.

Fleury, who leads the League with 27 wins, has allowed five goals in three of his past nine starts.

"It hasn't been good, the number of goals we've given up," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said. "It goes back to the Christmas break. We've given up a number and tonight we gave up five."

The Penguins' top-ranked penalty-killing unit (87.7 percent entering Monday) kept them in the game through two periods by shutting down three Florida power plays during the second period. But Clemmensen, who started in place of an ill Tim Thomas, did not allow Pittsburgh to build any momentum.

Clemmensen earned his sixth win of the season in his first start since Dec. 29.

He made key saves throughout the first two periods, including one on Evgeni Malkin from the goal mouth 1:52 into the second. After receiving a pass from James Neal, Malkin deked to the right and drove straight to the net. Clemmensen closed his pads and absorbed contact from Malkin to freeze the puck.

The Penguins scored their lone goal on Clemmensen 5:11 into the third period. Malkin sent a pass to Kris Letang at the point. Letang pushed the puck to Matt Niskanen, who slapped a shot past Clemmensen to cut Florida's lead to 3-1 with his seventh goal of the season.

Pittsburgh defenseman Paul Martin and forwards Neal, Chuck Kobasew and Jayson Megna each returned against Florida. But despite having their healthiest lineup in nearly two months, the Penguins' franchise-record 13-game home winning streak was snapped.

"I don't think you're ever due for that," Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said. "I don't think we gave ourselves a chance at all with the way we competed. The way we executed was bad, so we got what we deserve there."

Florida had not won in Pittsburgh since Jan. 3, 2009, when it defeated the Penguins 6-1 at Mellon Arena. Clemmensen said he was not aware of that losing streak, but was glad the Panthers snapped it by ending the Penguins' home winning streak.

"We think we're a pretty good team. The results don't show that," Clemmensen said. "Little moral victories go a long way with us. I think we've proven we can go into other team's building and tough buildings, whether it's here or Montreal, whatever the case is, and win games.

"We've proven that and we did it again tonight."

Crosby also had his 17-game home scoring streak snapped, two games shy of his career high. He had eight goals and 18 assists during the streak.

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