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Panthers Wrap-Up: Penguins 2, Panthers 1 (SO)

by Glenn Odebralski / Florida Panthers
1 2 3 OT SO T
Panthers 0 1 0 0 0-2 1
Penguins 0 0 1 0 2-2 2
FLA - T. Fleischmann (21)

PIT - S. Sullivan (14), SO - J. Neal
PITTSBURGH (AP) - Steve Sullivan scored the tying goal in the third period, and James Neal and Evgeni Malkin connected in the first two rounds of a shootout to lift the Pittsburgh Penguins to their eighth straight victory, 2-1 over the Florida Panthers on Friday night.

Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 28 shots and was perfect in the shootout for his 36th victory of the season, putting him one behind Nashville's Pekka Rinne for the NHL lead.

"The outcome is important at this time of the year, but it's a process. At the end of the day, it's how you play. We walk out of here knowing we played a good team and played extremely hard. We gave ourselves a good chance to win.'"

- Head coach Kevin Dineen to the Miami Herald
1. Jumping On The Board First: To say that opponents have jumped on the Panthers early or even first lately would be an understatement. Heading into the game, Florida had given up at least the first two goals of the game on seven of the last nine contests. Coming off a 5-0 thumping to Philadelphia and facing a fresh Pittsburgh team who had racked up seven straight victories, it was great to see the Panthers not only hold the high-flying Pens off the board for more than 40 minutes but also record the game's first goal. Wojtek Wolski put a shot high and wide and off the backboards behind the net. Crashing the net, Tomas Fleischmann found himself all alone and scored top shelf on Marc-Andre Fleury 7:17 into the second period. It was just the fifth time in the last 17 games that the Panthers recorded the first goal of the game.

2. On Second Look: It was only a matter of time before the high-powered Penguins would get on the board. Jose Theodore has been excellent this year in goal but the Pens averaged 3.1 goals a game heading into Friday's action. Steve Sullivan knotted the game at one after he got behind the Panthers defense and fired a quick shot on goal. Theodore the majority of the shot but the puck squeezed through five-hole and into the net 2:56 into the third period. Pittsburgh then looked to take a lead with 11:07 remaining in the game as Pascal Dupuis' shot from in close was seen by the referee to have passed the goal line although Theodore got his glove on it, making for a tough call. After several tense minutes, Toronto overturned the goal in seeing that the puck didn't fully cross the line before being covered up by Theodore. Game tied at one.

3. Solid Effort Nets Only A Point: Following last night's game, the Panthers needed a good bounceback game. While the third period was little to be desired (just four shots on goal), the Panthers got great efforts from the goal on out. Theodore was great in regulation and overtime in turning aside 33 shots and his defense made sure that a lot of the Pens shots were one and done. And even when the netminder was out of position, his teammates came to the rescue (Jason Garrison stopping Jordan Staal in overtime). The offense, while limited to just one goal were active and one of the best forwards on the ice was Jack Skille who was all over the place, creating opportunities, blocking shots and doing everything else. The Panthers bugaboo the majority of the season has been the shootout as they've struggled in finding ways to score while stopping the opponents from scoring. Before the game, they were 4-7 in the one-on-one format while Pittsburgh was 8-3. The trends continued as Florida skated with just one point after James Neal and Evgeni Malkin both beat Theodore while Wolski and Mikael Samuelsson were denied by Fleury.
Memorable twitter posts from the game.

@RhyminChrisR: Not a bad game at all. Our gut instincts aside, we knew Dineen absolutely had to make this a meaningful contest with PIT #FlaPanthers

@MaxEvanx: Not even bummed about that loss. At least they played tonight. Need to score more goals still. #FlaPanthers

@JagsFan93: #FlaPanthers may have gotten the extra point if this wasn't the back end of a back-to-back. Huge 4 game homestand upcoming.

@louisonofrio: I'll take a point in Pitt that's a hard place to play and win. #FlaPanthers #FIRSTPLACECATS

Memorable fan posts from the game.

Lynnette Porterfield Violette: Great game. Bummed about the shoot out. See you Sunday! Go Cats!!

Gregory Cordero: As predicted... but at least we got a point! well played game tho Cats!

Russ Gasbarro: Pens are only 4 points behind the Rangers...there is no shame in that. They have great goalies and a pretty solid team. Again, great game Panthers!

Erick Roque: Great game Theodore.

2. After allowing two power play goals against Philadelphia, Florida was successful in killing off both Pittsburgh power play attempts (a four-minute high-sticking minor to Krys Barch in the third).

5. Tomas Fleischmann scored the game's first goal in the second period. It was a rare occasion for the Panthers as it was just the fifth time in the last 17 games that the team has recorded the game's first goal.

8. Allowing two goals in the shootout, the Panthers lost their eighth time in the one-on-one session this season. That's tied atop the league for most shootout losses with Minnesota and Montreal.

21. Scoring off the rebound, Fleischmann, who scored his first goal in seven games, netted his 21st of the season. That total has him one behind Kris Versteeg for the team lead. The 21 tallies is the second most in his NHL career, two behind his 2009-10 total scored with Washington.

68. Not a good night in the face-off circle for the Panthers as the Penguins dominated by winning 68% of the draws (34-of-50).

Jose Theodore
While he didn't fair well in the shootout, was the best player in regulation and overtim in stopping 32 of the Penguins shots.

33 Shots, 32 Saves, .970 SV%
The Panthers return home for an all-important four-game homestand. Playing every other day, Florida opens up the homestand on Sunday with a 5pm start against the Carolina Hurricanes. It's the fourth meeting between the two teams, second in Sunrise and the Panthers have earned victories in each of the three contests (regulation, overtime, shootout). Before heading to Sunrise, Carolina will play Saturday night in Tampa. The Hurricanes are led offensively by captain Eric Staal (59 points in 67 games) and Jeff Skinner (37 points in 51 games). Staal actually saw his franchise record 11-game assist streak and franchise best (since moving to Carolina) 12-game point streak end on Wednesday in Buffalo. He racked up 21 points (7-14-21) over those 12 games. In goal, Cam Ward has seen the majority of the time, posting a 23-19-12 record with a .910 save percentage and a 2.85 goals against average.

Author: Glenn Odebralski |

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