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Panthers Wrap-Up: Panthers 6, Penguins 4

by Glenn Odebralski / Florida Panthers

1 2 3 OT T
Panthers 1 3 2 0 6
Penguins 0 4 0 0 4
FLA - PP - T. Kopecky (6), PP - T. Kopecky (7), PP - B. Campbell (5), PP - M. Goc (1), T. Fleischmann (5), EN - T. Kopecky (8)
PIT - J. Neal (13), D. Jeffrey (2), P. Martin (4), PP - C Kunitz (8)

SUNRISE, Fla — Tomas Kopecky recorded his first career hat trick and Tomas Fleischmann had the go-ahead score for his 100th career goal, lifting the Florida Panthers to a 6-4 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday night.

Brian Campbell and Marcel Goc also scored and Fleischmann added two assists for the Panthers. Scott Clemmensen stopped all 15 shots he faced in the third after replacing Jose Theodore during the second intermission. Theodore stopped 15 of 19 shots through the first and second period.

"It's as close as you're going to get to a playoff game kind of (atmosphere). I love playing in it. It's a great test. We're a desperate team and we needed it. We can fold up and not compete but there's a lot of fight in this team and we have a ways to go but we're working on getting better."

- Panthers defenseman Brian Campbell.
1. Panthers Power Play Explodes: The Panthers power play has struggled of late, scoring once in their last eight games coming in against the Penguins. Whatever they worked on in practice, it worked as the scored a season high four goals on the man advantage in the first 40 minutes. It all started with hard work from Tomas Kopecky as the forward cashed in on a rebound midway through the first period. The forward then went to work for a second rebound goal 3:22 into the second, answering James Neal's goal 51 seconds in. That started off a lot of fistacuffs with the Pens getting a power play out of the deal. After the Cats killed it off, they went on the power play and struck twice in a span of 31 seconds as Brian Campbell and Marcel Goc scored to put the home team up 4-1. The Cats scored at least three goals on the man advantage three times this season.

2. Pens Make It A Game: Despite the three-goal lead, the Penguins fought back and it was less than a minute later (9:51 mark) that Dustin Jeffrey's shot from the slot somehow beat Jose Theodore. Then the Pens killed off a Cats power play and immediately scored on the ensuing rush as Paul Martin lasered a shot top shelf with 5:52 to play in the second. The game would be tied off some bad luck as Chris Kunitz's shot from by the goal line went in off of Mike Weaver's skate with 40.1 seconds left in the period.

3. Tomas Squared, And Clem: After Pittsburgh tied the game late in the second, the Panthers could have gotten down and given up. When Tomas Fleischmann was called for a penalty just 1:19 into the final 20, it could have gone side ways. Instead the Florida penalty kill did their job, killed it off and Fleischmann stepped out of the box, took a long pass from Jerred Smithson and worked his way down on a 2-on-1 break. He looked off the pass and fired it far side on Marc-Andre Fleury for what would eventually be the game-winner 10 seconds after his penalty ended. The Penguins, desperate to tie it up once again, threw everything at Scott Clemmensen who started the third in place of Theodore. Coming in cold, Clemmensen was brilliant in turning aside all 15 shots. With the net empty, Kopecky stole the puck in his own zone and under pressure, banked it off the boards and the puck rolled down the ice before finally depositing into the back of the net for his first career hat trick. The ending was a relief for the Panthers and their fans as they ended a five-game home losing streak as it was their first win at home in the month of February.
Memorable twitter posts from the game.

@me_kimba: Congrats to Kopy on his first hat trick!! WHAT A GAME!

@IcingPanthers: I'm just happy to see that when @FlaPanthers play as a team - we can do anything!

@Nick_Lonewolf: Feeling real good about @FlaPanthers win tonight. Sabres Thurs & Canes Sat & Sun. We can lead our division by Sun night Let's go! #RedRising

@MikeyGonzz: Whenever the @FlaPanthers win I'm in a great mood for the next two days. Hell of a game!

@LauraByTheSea48: It's really nice to come home tonight empty handed with out any rats! I tossed 3. Great win

Memorable fan posts from the game.

Cindy Berger: I'm doing a happy dance Panthers!!!!

Alex Cruz: congrats to Kopeky on the hat trick and the Panthers on the win!

Sebastian Lovas: Great win. Really needed this one. Entertaining game and congrats to Kopecky for a sick game! We need to play like this more often! Clemmer saved us in the last period.

Chris Burt: Finally showed some heart at the end. Thumbs up to Clem.

Jarmila Kubikova: Beautiful game! GO CATS GO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

1. He had scored two goals five times before in his career but never gotten the chance for hats to be thrown. That changed Tuesday as Tomas Kopecky opened the scoring with two power play goals from just outside the crease and then closed it out with his third into the empty net with a minute left on the clock.

The Panthers power play had it's best outing as they scored a season high four goals, three coming in the second period. Two came off of the stick of Kopecky while Brian Campbell and Marcel Goc each recording a goal.

The Panthers and Penguins offenses took center stage in the second period as they combined for seven goals in the middle 20 minutes of play.

16. The referees were a busy bunch as they called 16 different infractions. Pittsburgh finished with nine of them. 12 of them came in the second period with the Penguins recording eight of their nine in the period.

100. Coming out of the penalty box, Tomas Fleischmann found himself on a two-on-one break and fired a shot top shelf to record his fifth of the season and 100th of his NHL career.

Tomas Kopecky
Recorded his first career hat trick and added an assist to boot to tie a career high in points. Not a bad evening for Kopecky.

 35 Shots, 34 Saves, .971 SV%
Florida looks to close out their three-game home stand as they start a winning streak when they host the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday. It's the second time the two teams met with Florida winning in comeback fashion as they scored three unanswered goals in winning 4-3 on Super Bowl Sunday. There, George Parros, Peter Mueller and Brian Campbell (PP) all scored after the Cats found themselves trailing 3-1 in the second period. Buffalo, which has had it's struggles this season, comes in with a new coach after firing the league's longest tenured coach, Lindy Ruff (former Florida assistant) earlier this month.

Author: Glenn Odebralski |

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