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Aftermath: Penguins 5, Panthers 2

by Tony Jovenitti / Pittsburgh Penguins
2 - 5

FINAL 1 2 3 T
PANTHERS 1 0 1 2
PENGUINS 3 1 1 5
For the second time in as many games, the Penguins played a complete team game for 60 minutes Wednesday night, and it resulted in a 5-2 win over Florida at CONSOL Energy Center.

Brent Johnson earned his eighth win of the season, but he left the game after the second period with a groin injury. Marc-Andre Fleury relieved him and made 15 saves in the third period to seal the victory.

The scoring started early, as the third line cashed in on some great passes just 1:30 into the game.

Prior to the game, Mark Letestu said that the third line’s main goal is to try to create momentum, “hopefully softening (the defense) up for (Sidney) Crosby and (Evgeni) Malkin.”

Well, when the puck dropped, the opposite of that happened. Malkin and his linemates were buzzing right off the bat, and he got a nice chance on Florida goaltender Tomas Vokoun. The third line then converted that momentum onto the scoreboard.

Tyler Kennedy found Letestu breaking down into the slot, who had a clear path to Vokoun. But instead of taking the shot, Letestu showed incredible patience to draw the netminder out of position and punch the puck into the twine.

After Florida tied the game, Sidney Crosby netted the go-ahead goal to extend his scoring streak to 22 games.

Just a few minutes later, Malkin’s hard work led to another lamp lighting for Pittsburgh. He battled in the corner to center the puck, where Matt Cooke found it and spun a wrister past Vokoun to give the Penguins a two-goal cushion.

Ben Lovejoy scored his first NHL goal, and Pascal Dupuis scored an empty-netter to round out the scoring for Pittsburgh.

Two days after eight different Penguins tallied points in a 6-1 win over Phoenix, 12 different Penguins found themselves on the score sheet in another total team effort for Pittsburgh.
Ben Lovejoy
When Ben Lovejoy visited North Strabane Intermediate School a few weeks ago to read to students, the students asked him several times about his first NHL goal.

“I’m still waiting,” he told the sixth-graders.

He doesn’t have to wait any longer.

In the second period, Lovejoy blasted a slapper from the top of the right faceoff circle. The shot panged off the post and into the netting behind backup goalie Scott Clemmensen to give Lovejoy his first-career NHL goal.

Crosby sent a shot toward the net and pressured the Florida defenders as they tried to clear it. The pressure worked, and the Panthers cleared the puck to the low boards – right to Lovejoy, who teed up the shot.

Not only did Lovejoy find the back of the net, he was just one assist shy of a Gordie Howe Hat Trick. In the first period, he dropped the gloves with Shawn Matthias. He got a few jabs in before Matthias fell to the ice.

He finished the game with one shot, a plus-2 rating and blocked one shot. But that block on Bryan McCabe’s shot came at a price, as the puck struck him in the face and he left the ice late in the game.
Stephen Weiss beat Johnson early in the first to tie the game, 1-1, and take the momentum garnered by Letestu’s first goal away from the Penguins. But that sparked a Pittsburgh resurgence, and the Penguins cashed in five minutes later and never looked back.

Brent Johnson cleared the puck to the sideboards, where Chris Kunitz battled a Florida defender for possession. Kunitz managed to slip a backhander toward Crosby, sending the Penguins captain on a one-on-one.

He blasted a powerful slap shot from the top of the left circle past Vokoun to give the Penguins a 2-1 lead which they would never relinquish. Matt Cooke scored three minutes later, which prompted Florida head coach Peter DeBoer to pull Vokoun in favor of backup Scott Clemmensen.
PITTSBURGH (AP)—Sidney Crosby matched the second-longest NHL scoring streak in 18 years at 22 games with his first-period goal and the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Florida Panthers 5-2 on Wednesday night.

Crosby scored for the 28th time this season and 22nd time during the streak 7:44 into the game, giving the Penguins a lead they wouldn’t relinquish when he fired a slap shot while skating down the left wing that beat Florida goalie Tomas Vokoun to the far side.

Ben Lovejoy had his first career goal, and Mark Letestu, Matt Cooke and Pascal Dupuis also scored for Pittsburgh, which has won 14 of its past 16, recovering from a two-game losing streak last week with consecutive convincing victories.
• Crosby’s goal gave him a point in 22-straight contests, the longest scoring streak in the post-lockout era, tying Dany Heatley’s 2005 stretch. With his goal, Crosby now has 43 points (22G-21A) in that stretch, extending his lead in the NHL’s scoring race. He now has 57 points, 10 points ahead of second place Steven Stamkos.

• Crosby's 22-game point streak is tied for the second-longest streak since 1993, when Mats Sundin put together a 30-game scoring stretch with the Quebec Nordiques.

• Johnson tallied his first point of the season with an assist. The Penguins netminder cleared the puck to the bench, where Kunitz made a nice backhand pass to set up Crosby’s breakaway goal. It was his ninth helper in his 11-year career. The goaltender stopped 20 of 21 shots through two periods for a save percentage of .952. He left the game after the second with a groin injury, and Fleury held the fort in the final frame.

• There is no doubt that the Penguins have developed a home court advantage in their new arena. In the past 12 games, the Penguins are 10-1-1. Over that time, Pittsburgh is averaging 3.6 goals per game and only 1.92 goals against.

• Malkin took four games off to recover from a nagging lower-body injury. It turns out that the time off was the perfect remedy. Since his return to the lineup, Malkin scored five goals and four assists in the past four games, factoring in on nine of the Penguins’ 12 goals.

• The Penguins penalty kill continues to shine, as it was perfect for the second game in a row. The PK killed off all three Florida power plays. The Penguins have only allowed 17 power play goals on 147 chances all season, giving Pittsburgh the best penalty kill in the league with an 88.4 percent success rate.

• All four goalies (Johnson, Fleury, Vokoun and Clemmensen) played in the game. And Pittsburgh nearly had two netminders tally points. Johnson assisted on Crosby’s goal, and Fleury took a shot at an empty net in the waning moments of the game, but the puck sailed just wide.
#1. Ben Lovejoy
  Defenseman - 6
1st career NHL goal
plus-2 rating
12:57 TOI
#2. Sidney Crosby
  Center - 87
1 goal
8 shots
plus-2 rating
#3. Mark Letestu
  Center - 10
1 goal
3 shots
8-of-11 in faceoffs

Author: Tony Jovenitti

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