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Aftermath: Penguins 4, Panthers 3 SO

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins
    AP Recap | Photos | Game Highlights

Dan Bylsma | Sidney Crosby | Evgeni Malkin | Jordan Staal | Sergei Gonchar
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The wins just keep coming for Pittsburgh, and this time Florida was the victim. The Penguins won their season-high seventh straight contest with a come-from-behind 4-3 shootout victory over the Panthers in a crucial battle between two teams fighting for a postseason berth.

The Penguins outplayed Florida through the first two periods and dominated in every category except one. Pittsburgh found itself behind, 3-1, in the third period. However, the Penguins dominant play was just too much for the Panthers. Pittsburgh rallied to tie the game on clutch goals by Jordan Staal and Sidney Crosby, and emerged from the shootout with two critical points in the standings.

The Panthers entered the game with a 24-1-1 record when leading after two periods. They leave the game 24-1-2 when leading after two periods and that’s a testament to the Penguins’ never-say-die effort. The victory puts the Penguins in control of their own destiny and in the sixth spot in the tight Eastern Conference race.
(AP) - Evgeni Malkin scored Pittsburgh's first goal and then decided the shootout for the Penguins, who rallied from two goals down in the third period and beat the Florida Panthers 4-3 Tuesday night for their seventh consecutive victory.

The winning streak is the Penguins' longest since they won eight in a row from Dec. 23, 2007, through Jan. 10, 2008.

Kris Letang and Malkin each got the puck past Tomas Vokoun as the Penguins won their second shootout in three days, following up a 4-3 decision Sunday in Washington.
Pos. Team GP Record Pts
4. Philadelphia 65 36-19-10 82
5. Montreal 67 36-24-7 79
6. Pittsburgh 68 36-26-6 78
7. Florida 67 34-24-9 77
8. Carolina 68 36-27-5 77
9. NY Rangers 67 34-25-8 76
10. Buffalo 67 33-27-7 73

Team Notables:
Buffalo: Lost at Philadelphia, 5-2
Carolina: Off-day: Plays at Chicago Wednesday at 8:30 p.m.
Florida: Lost at Pittsburgh in shootout, 4-3
Montreal: Won vs. Edmonton in overtime, 4-3
NY Rangers: Off-day: Plays at Nashville Thursday at 8 p.m.
Philadelphia: Won vs. Buffalo, 5-2

Sidney Crosby celebrates after tying the game in the third period (photo by Getty)
What Worked Well: Rally
The Penguins found themselves in the unenviable position of trailing the Panthers, 3-1, after two periods. Florida entered the game with a 24-1-1 mark when leading after 40 minutes. But Pittsburgh refuse to quit and came out on fire in the third. They scored two goals in the first 5:29 to tie the game and eliminate the deficit en route to a victory.

What Could Have Gone Better: First 40 Minutes
As stated above, the Panthers entered the game with a 24-1-1 record when leading after two periods. Pittsburgh did not want to be behind after 40 minutes. The Penguins dominated the first two periods of the game but still found themselves trailing 3-1. Pittsburgh had a decisive edge in shots, 29-14, scoring chances and offensive zone possession time. However, goalie Tomas Vokoun played extremely well and frustrated the Penguins’ efforts early. The Penguins eventually broke through in the third period.
Jordan Staal was a one-man wrecking machine against Florida. He played one of his better games of the season in an important victory for the Penguins. With his team trailing 3-1 in the third period, Staal scored a huge goal for Pittsburgh that turned the tide in the team’s favor. Staal recorded eight shots, won 59 percent of his faceoffs and logged over 20 minutes of ice time.
Evgeni Malkin lifted the puck into the net and the Penguins into the lead late in the first period. Crosby had the puck in the near corner. He fanned on a shot-pass but the puck still fluttered to Malkin, who was to the near side of the crease. Malkin settled the puck and roofed a backhander over the shoulder of netminder Tomas Vokoun. Pittsburgh 1, Florida 0.

The Panthers tied the game on a goal early in the second period from Nick Boynton. The Penguins clearing attempt was thwarted by a great hustle play on the part of Keith Ballard. The Florida blueliner flipped the puck to David Booth. Booth carried the puck and dropped it to Boynton in the high slot. Boynton’s shot sneaked through traffic and sailed into the upper-left corner. Pittsburgh 1, Florida 1.

Florida took the lead midway through the second period. Boynton took a slap shot on net from the near point. Marc-Andre Fleury kicked out the rebound to his left. Kamil Kreps collected the puck and went backhand-forehand before depositing the puck into the goal. Florida 2, Pittsburgh 1.

The Panthers increased their lead with a late goal in the second period. Ville Peltonen skated the puck towards the Penguins’ goal line and threw it towards the crease. It hit Fleury’s pad and bounced into the air. The puck then deflected off of Ballard’s knee and behind Fleury with 1:10 left in the second period. Florida 3, Pittsburgh 1.

Jordan Staal cut into the Panthers’ lead with his 18th goal of the season. Kris Letang made a beautiful play at the blue line, shielding the puck from Booth before finding Tyler Kennedy open in the far corner. Kennedy juked a Panther before setting up Matt Cooke for a one-timer from the far hash mark. Vokoun made the save but the rebound popped into the air. Staal batted the airborne puck down and through the legs of Vokoun. Florida 3, Pittsburgh 2.

The Penguins’ new top line connected for the tying goal five minutes into the final frame. The Panthers turned the puck over deep in the Pittsburgh zone. The Penguins came busting out with a four-on-two chance. Crosby dished the puck to Chris Kunitz at the Florida blue line and drove to the net with speed. Kunitz dropped the puck to Bill Guerin in the high slot. Guerin threw the puck to Crosby at the crease. Crosby re-directed the puck off of the goal post. It then deflected off of Vokoun and across the goal line. Pittsburgh 3, Florida 3.

Letang and Malkin were the only scorers in the shootout. Letang, the first shooter, faked backhand and the roofed a water bottle shot on the forehand. Vokoun tried to poke-check the puck off of Malkin’s stick. Malkin curled the puck to safety and easily tapped it into the net. Pittsburgh 4, Florida 3.
Pittsburgh played without Petr Sykora for the second straight game. Sykora is listed as day-to-day with an undisclosed injury.

Former Penguin Gary Roberts officially announced his retirement from the National Hockey League at 42 years old. He had classy things to say about the Penguins organization. Here’s what Roberts said via a conference call with the media:

"Pittsburgh is another city where I had a great time. I was treated awesome by the fans and the organization and I had an opportunity to play with Sidney Crosby, Jordan Staal, Colby Armstrong and Ryan Malone. I thought I had an influence on those guys when I played there and they had an influence on me. How they prepared and how committed they were kept me hungry and excited as an older player.”

"I broke my leg in December and missed almost three months with that and torn ankle tendons. I knew I would be a small part of it, but it was an awesome feeling for me and really rewarding to make it to the Stanley Cup Final. We played a pretty tough team in Detroit. To get there for the first time in 19 or 20 years was very satisfying and something that I will always cherish. I was only in Pittsburgh for 1 1/2 years, but it felt like I was there a lot longer."
> Pittsburgh improved to 36-26-6 on the year, with an 18-11-2 mark at Mellon Arena, and has won a season-best seven straight games. The winning streak is the Penguins' longest since they won eight in a row from Dec. 23, 2007, through Jan. 10, 2008.

> The Penguins have won seven of their past eight games.

> Pittsburgh is 9-1-1 since Dan Bylsma was named interim head coach. They were 8-1-1 in his first 10 games behind the bench, the best start through 10 games for a Penguins head coach in franchise history (Herb Brooks, 7-2-1).

> Pittsburgh recorded a season-high 50 shots, breaking the previous high of 47 (March 5 at Florida). The Penguins have taken 97 shots in the last two games against Florida.

> Scoring Summary:
PIT, E.Malkin (30), 18:31 1st period: Penguins 1, Panthers 0
FLA, N.Boynton (5), 4:37 2nd period: Penguins 1, Panthers 1
FLA, K.Kreps (3), 11:12 2nd period: Panthers 2, Penguins 1
FLA, K. Ballard (5), 18:50 2nd period: Panthers 3, Penguins 1
PIT, J.Staal (18), 2:20 3rd period: Panthers 3, Penguins 2
PIT, S.Crosby (26), 5:29 3rd period: Penguins 3, Panthers 3
SO, K.Letang (Winner), E.Malkin

> Evgeni Malkin scored a goal against Florida to increase his NHL lead in points to 95 (30G-65A). Malkin’s 65 assists are a league-best and a new single-season career high. He has tallied 30-plus goals in three straight seasons.

> Sidney Crosby scored a goal and added an assist against Florida. He is third in the league in scoring with 84 points (26G-58A) and his 58 assists are second most in the league behind teammate Malkin’s 65. Crosby has a seven-game scoring streak, tallying 12 points (5G-7A) over that span.

> Marc-Andre Fleury made 18 saves to tie a career high with his seventh consecutive victory. He’s won nine of his past 10 games while making his 16th straight start. The victory was the 104th of his career. He is only the third goalie in Penguins’ history to hit the century mark and tied Ken Wregget for second place on the Penguins’ all-time wins list.

> Jordan Staal scored his third goal in the past six games. In that span he has three goals and two assists for five points and a plus-6 rating.

> Bill Guerin registered an assist against the Panthers. He has five points (1G-4A) in his first three games with Pittsburgh. Guerin has a four-game scoring streak (1G-5A) and recorded his 400th career NHL assist.

> Kris Letang tallied an assists against the Panthers. In his last five games, Letang has two goals and three assists for five points.

> Mellon Arena sold out for the 98th straight game with a standing room only attendance of 17,132.
1. S.Crosby, PIT
2. T.Vokoun, FLA
3. J.Staal, PIT
“Obviously (having Crosby, Malkin and Staal) is a big advantage.
Those three guys are three very good players. It’s a good
thing they’re playing on our team.”
- Sergei Gonchar


Author: Sam Kasan

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