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Penguins-Panthers Preview @NHL
Penguins-Panthers Preview

GAME: Pittsburgh Penguins (7-9-6) at Florida Panthers (6-12-4).

TIME: Friday, 7:30 p.m. EST.

The Florida Panthers haven't beaten anyone since their last meeting with the Pittsburgh Penguins. They'll look to avoid matching the worst losing streak in franchise history when they host Sidney Crosby and the Penguins.

The Panthers lost 5-1 to the New Jersey Devils on Wednesday for their 12th straight defeat. Florida has gone 0-8-4 since winning 4-3 in overtime at Pittsburgh on Oct. 25.

The Panthers set a team record with 13 straight losses from Feb. 7 to March 23, 1998.

Goalie Roberto Luongo, who was pulled in the second period Wednesday after allowing five goals on 19 shots, said that he had a bad feeling about his team's chances after New Jersey scored its first goal.

"They get a goal, and it seems as though we get away from our game," he said. "We put our heads down or something. I've never went 12 games without winning. That's new for a lot of guys."

Sean Hill scored his first goal of the season in the second period for the Panthers, but not before they were already trailing 5-0. Florida has allowed 23 goals in its last five games.

The Panthers, who are wrapping up a three-game homestand, have played eight games on the road during their losing streak.

Joe Nieuwendyk returned to Florida's lineup Wednesday after missing 14 games with a back injury. Nieuwendyk, who had 22 goals and 28 assists for Toronto last season, assisted on one goal and picked up 13:27 of ice time.

The Penguins beat the Washington Capitals 5-4 on Tuesday in the first matchup between highly touted rookies Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin. Crosby didn't disappoint, weaving through two defensemen to score during Pittsburgh's four-goal first period and setting up Ziggy Palffy's second goal of the game with a no-look, spin-move pass in the second period.

Crosby leads NHL rookies with 27 points (11 goals, 16 assists) in 22 games, and is on a pace to match Mario Lemieux's 100-point rookie season in 1984-85. His scoring pace is higher than that of Martin St. Louis, who won the 2004 scoring championship for Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay with 94 points in 82 games.

"He can be like Mario - sometimes he's hard to read, you don't know what's going to happen," Palffy said. "He's very fun to play with."

The Penguins sent forwards Rico Fata and Konstantin Koltsov and defenseman Rob Scuderi to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the AHL on Tuesday and called up forwards Michel Ouellet and Matt Hussey. Both Ouellet and Hussey played for Pittsburgh, which has called up two players in one day twice this season.

STANDINGS (through Nov. 24): Penguins - 20 points, 5th place, 13 PB, Atlantic Division. Panthers - 16 points, 5th place, 13 PB, Southeast Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Penguins - Crosby, 11 goals and 27 points; Crosby and Palffy, 16 assists; Brooks Orpik, 40 PIM. Panthers - Olli Jokinen and Nathan Horton, 7 goals; Jokinen, 12 assists and 19 points; Branislav Mezei, 37 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Nov. 24): Penguins - Power play: 18 percent (27 for 150), 15th in NHL. Penalty killing: 78.2 percent (115 for 147), 29th. Panthers - Power play: 12.1 percent (16 for 132), 29th. Penalty killing: 78.5 percent (110 for 140), 28th.

GOALTENDERS: Penguins - Sebastien Caron (5-3-3, 0 SO, 3.71 GAA); Jocelyn Thibault (1-5-2, 0, 4.51). Panthers - Luongo (6-10-4, 2, 3.11); Jamie McLennan (0-2-0, 0, 2.32).

SEASON SERIES: Panthers, 1-0.

LAST MEETING: Oct. 25; Panthers, 4-3, OT. At Pittsburgh, Stephen Weiss scored the game-winner 53 seconds into overtime. The Penguins, who won their next game, extended their season-opening losing streak to nine games.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Penguins - 4-4-3 on the road; Panthers - 4-4-1 at home.

Associated Press
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