In the 2009-10 campaign, the Penguins and the Panthers played into overtime or a shootout in three of their four meetings. Monday’s game seemed destined to end that way, with the Panthers clawing their way back from a two-goal deficit to leave the teams tied at 2-2 halfway through the third period.
That is, until the recently recalled Chris Conner made his presence known.
The right winger’s tally with 7:04 left in the final frame proved to be the game winner as the Penguins won the first game of their fifth annual 'Dad’s Trip' over the Panthers, 3-2.
The Penguins had come out flying, scoring two power-play goals in the first period to jump to an early 2-0 lead. But the Panthers weren’t ready to lie down, scoring with just 35 seconds left in the opening frame and tying the game midway through the second frame.
But strong, inspired play from the Penguins’ third line of Chris Conner, Mark Letestu and Tyler Kennedy spurred the Penguins to victory, with Conner tallying off the rush with 6:56 to play in regulation.
Pittsburgh's third-period relentlessness was also aided by goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, who continued his confident play that has seen him go 5-0-1 over his last six starts by making a few big saves late in the game.
The strong play of the Penguins’ third line of Chris Conner, Mark Letestu and Tyler Kennedy helped spur the Penguins to victory. Over the last few games, the trio has been using their speed and tenacity on the forecheck to bring energy and make plays, and their hard work paid off on Monday.
Since being called up from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Conner has provided a spark for the Penguins in each of the six games he has spent with the Penguins this season, and Monday he was rewarded for his all-out hustle. He logged 10:57 of ice time and fired off three shots en route to scoring the game-winning goal – his first tally of the season – with 7:04 remaining in the third period.
Letestu started the rush that eventually resulted in Conner’s winner, carrying the puck deep into the Panthers zone. While fending off a defender, he managed to hook a pass to Conner, who one-timed the puck past Vokoun from the bottom of the near circle.
With just under five minutes left to play in a game that kept constantly switching momentum, the Panthers got a golden opportunity to tie the game at 3-3 when Tyler Kennedy got sent to the box for boarding. But the Penguins penalty killing unit continued its stellar play with players sacrificing their bodies to clear the puck out of the zone and kill off a late Florida power play to help preserve the victory.
(AP) - Chris Conner scored his first goal of the season with 7:04 remaining in the third period to lift the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 3-2 victory over the Florida Panthers on Monday night.
Kris Letang and Sidney Crosby had power-play goals for the Penguins, who came into the game ranked 25th in the league with the man advantage.
• With his goal and assist, Sidney Crosby is now tied for the league lead in points (35) with Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos. The Penguins captain ranks second in the NHL with in both goals (15) and assists (20). He has now scored a point in nine consecutive games, and has notched multiple points in eight of his last 11.
• The Penguins got their fifth annual Dad’s Trip off to a solid start with Monday’s win. The 3-2 defeat of the Panthers improves the Penguins all-time record on the Dad’s Trip to 6-3. The team hopes to repeat last season’s sweep with a win Wednesday in Buffalo.
• Pittsburgh’s special teams performed brilliantly on Monday. Their penalty killing unit has now killed off 58 of its past 62 (93.5 percent) times shorthanded, dating back to Oct. 21 at Nashville. The Penguins scored two first-period power play goals exactly seven minutes apart, the third time this season the Penguins have scored a pair of man-advantage goals in the same game.