The Penguins clocked their hours sheet with some overtime for a fourth-straight game, heading to their fourth-consecutive shootout against Florida on Sunday afternoon at CONSOL Energy Center.
But thanks to another outstanding performance by goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury – who made 37 saves through 65 minutes of play before stopping both Panthers shooters in the shootout – the Penguins set an NHL record by earning their fourth-consecutive shootout win.
Although the Panthers have been eliminated from playoff contention, they came out strong from the drop of the puck. They outshot the Penguins by a 36-24 margin through the first 60 minutes and got on the board first when Ryan Carter re-directed a shot past Fleury with 4:28 remaining in the second, ending Fleury’s shutout streak at 150:14 minutes, a new Penguins franchise record. But thanks to a goal by defenseman Ben Lovejoy just over two minutes later, the Penguins were able to hold off the Panthers through the next period and overtime to get to the shootout.
That’s when Alex Kovalev scored the game-deciding goal in the second round of the shootout and James Neal also tallied in the third round to ensure the Penguins would earn a crucial two points.
The fourth-place Penguins now hold a seven-point lead over fifth-place Tampa Bay and are two points behind Philadelphia for the top spot in the Eastern Conference.
Defenseman Ben Lovejoy doesn’t score often. But he sure made his third goal of the season and of his career count on Sunday at CONSOL Energy Center.
Lovejoy scored the Penguins’ only goal in regulation with 2:11 remaining in the second period to even the score at 1-1 and open the door for Pittsburgh to earn a shootout victory.
Lovejoy had pinched into the Panthers zone to keep the puck deep before picking up a slick pass from Alex Kovalev. He drove to the net, pulled the puck to his forehand and sniped it through the arm of Panthers goalie Tomas Vokoun.
The blueliner now has points in five of his last seven games for a total of two goals and three assists. He finished the night with 16:24 of ice time and recorded one hit and one blocked shot.
Lovejoy seems to thrive against the Panthers, as his first-career NHL goal came on Dec. 22 in a 5-2 win over Florida at CONSOL Energy Center.
The Panthers came to play from the drop of the puck, controlling the tempo of the first period as they fired 11 shots on Marc-Andre Fleury through the first 20 minutes of play to the Penguins’ five.
Florida continued to barrage Fleury in the middle frame, and late in the second period, they were rewarded when Ryan Carter re-directed a puck into the back of the net to give the Panthers the game’s first goal.
But the Penguins didn’t get down, responding just over two minutes later when defenseman Ben Lovejoy drove to the net and roofed a shot over Panthers goalie Tomas Vokoun to tie the score at one.
From there on out, the Penguins didn’t allow the Panthers to capitalize again, holding on through the remainder of regulation and overtime to win the game in the shootout and net the two points.
PITTSBURGH (AP) - Alex Kovalev and James Neal scored in the shootout, Marc-Andre Fleury had 37 saves and the Pittsburgh Penguins won their fourth consecutive shootout, defeating the Florida Panthers 2-1 on Sunday.
Ben Lovejoy scored in regulation for the Penguins, who moved within two points of Philadelphia in the race for the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference leads.
The Flyers, who played later Sunday, visit Pittsburgh on Tuesday.
Fleury set a new team record for time elapsed between goals allowed (150 minutes, 14 seconds). He also stopped Mike Santorelli and Niclas Bergfors in the shootout.
- The Pittsburgh Penguins established a National Hockey League record this afternoon by winning their fourth straight game via shootout. Their other three wins came against Detroit on March 21, Philadelphia on March 24 and New Jersey on March 25.
- Marc-Andre Fleury established a new franchise record for the longest shutout sequence in team history by not allowing a goal for 150:14 minutes. He bested the previous record held by Jocelyn Thibault (136:13).
- Over his past 50 starts, Fleury has allowed two or fewer goals 33 times. He has allowed zero goals three times, one goal 14 times and two goals 15 times.
- Brooks Orpik made his return to the lineup on Sunday after missing 13-straight games with a broken finger. He played 20:54 minutes (including 1:30 shorthanded minutes) and recorded four hits and one blocked shot while skating on a defensive pairing with Kris Letang.
- Panthers backup goalie Scott Clemmensen replaced Tomas Vokoun for the overtime period and the shootout. Clemmensen made four saves in the extra period.
- The Penguins have now won six-straight games against the Panthers in Pittsburgh and have posted an 11-4 overall mark against Florida since the beginning of the 2007-08 season.
- Pittsburgh has now gone 13-1-5 in one-goal games since Sidney Crosby missed his first game on Jan. 6. In the 13 one-goal games the team has played over the past 23 games without Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, the Penguins are 8-1-4.
- The Penguins held their annual team awards ceremony on the ice prior to puck drop. Mike Rupp won the Baz Bastien Memorial “Good Guy” Award, Deryk Engelland was the Penguins’ NHL Masterton Nominee, Mark Letestu was awarded Rookie of the Year and Rupp and Talbot won the Edward J. DeBartolo “Community Service” Award. Brooks Orpik earned both the Players’ Player Award and the Defensive Player of the Year Award, while Marc-Andre Fleury was named the team’s Most Valuable Player.
#1. Marc-Andre Fleury
Goaltender - 29
37 saves on 38 shots
Set team shutout streak record
#2. Alex Kovalev
Right Wing - 72
Game-deciding shootout goal
#3. Ben Lovejoy
Defenseman - 6
1 hit, 1 blocked shot
Author: Michelle Crechiolo