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Penguins vs. Panthers Game Preview

by Staff Writer / Pittsburgh Penguins
Pittsburgh Penguins

Home: 5-5-1-11
Road: 6-3-1-13

WHEN: Nov. 22, 2010 - 7:30 pm   |   WHERE: Bank Atlantic Center
FSN  |  LISTEN: Pens HD Radio, 105.9 FM
Florida Panthers
Home: 5-2-0-10

  Pittsburgh Penguins at Florida Panthers 
David Booth
F  -  #10
  5 Goals
  6 Assists
  11 Points
•Came back strong over the second half of the season with 13 points (6G-7A) over the final 19 games after missing three months following a serious concussion.
• Former Michigan State Spartan established career highs two seasons ago with 31 goals and 60 points.
• His five goals (tied) and 11 points this season rank second on the team, while his 77 shots pace the squad.
Marty Reasoner
F  -  #19
  4 Goals
  7 Assists
  11 Points
• Florida acquired the veteran forward over the summer to help provide a veteran presence on a young team.
• Ranks second on the team in points (11) and rating (plus-7), and third in assists (7).
• Places second on the team with two game-winning goals.
Dennis Wideman
D  -  #6
  2 goals
  8 assists
  10 points
• Was acquired by the Panthers over the summer in the blockbuster trade that sent former No. 1-draft pick Nathan Horton to Boston.
• Two-way blueliner has proven to be plenty durable, appearing in 75 or more games in each of the past four seasons. Currently, he leads Florida in TOI (24:15).
• Posted back-to-back seasons where he posted 13 goals in ’07-08 and ’08-09 with Boston.
The Penguins kick off the team’s fifth annual ‘Dad’s Trip’ by visiting the Florida Panthers on Monday night as they begin a brief two-game road swing to conclude the pre-Thanksgiving portion of the schedule.

While Florida might not appear to pose much of a threat on paper, as they currently sit in last place in the Southeast Division with 18 points, the fourth-fewest total in the Eastern Conference as of Sunday, the Panthers played the Penguins very tough last season despite winning just once in four tries.

Florida once again features a youthful lineup that relies on tough defense and the spectacular goaltending of Tomas Vokoun to win games.

Vokoun, 34, is off to another strong start between the pipes this season. Although he once again ranks among the league leaders in shots faced, Vokoun continues to give the Panthers a chance to win every night, ranking 10th in the National Hockey League with a .926 save percentage.

Vokoun actually posted an unbeaten 1-0-3 mark against the Penguins last year, stopping 166 of the 176 shots Pittsburgh threw his way (.943 svp.). In 20 career games against the Penguins, Vokoun has a 7-7-6 record with a pair of shutouts.

While Vokoun has starred, Florida has struggled to consistently pick up wins because of a lack of offensive firepower. The Panthers have scored the fourth-fewest goals (50) in the Eastern Conference, as their leading scorer is Michael Frolik with 12 points (4G-8A) through 17 games.

Outside of Vokoun, Florida’s strength lies on the blue line.

Led by Dennis Wideman and Bryan McCabe, the Panthers feature a unit which has combined to allow the third-fewest goals-against (45) in the conference. Teaming up with Wideman and McCabe in the top-four are veteran Bryan Allen and improving second-year man Dmitry Kulikov.
  • Monday’s game marks the beginning of the Penguins’ fifth annual ‘Dad’s Trip’. Many of the players and staff members have their fathers traveling with the team during the two-game trek to Florida and Buffalo (Wednesday). The Penguins own a 5-3 all-time record during the dad’s trip, including a perfect 2-0 mark last season.
  • Last season, the Penguins defeated the Panthers in three of the four games, with each of Pittsburgh’s victories coming in overtime. The final score of all three Pittsburgh wins was 3-2. Sidney Crosby (Nov. 23 at FLA) and Evgeni Malkin (Dec. 12 vs. FLA) each won games with overtime tallies, while Crosby notched a decisive shootout tally Oct. 23 at Mellon Arena.
  • Penguins forward Chris Kunitz has enjoyed quite a hot stretch the past two weeks. During his past seven games, Kunitz has notched five goals and six points, including a two-goal effort Friday night vs. Carolina. For the season, Kunitz leads all Penguins wingers in both goals (7) and points (12). His 18.9 shooting percentage is tops on the team.
  • Penguins goaltender Brent Johnson has posted strong numbers in his career against the Panthers. In 14 career games, Johnson has an 8-3-1 record. Last season, Johnson won both of his starts against Florida, stopping 56 of 60 shots for a 1.91 goals-against average and .933 save percentage.


Defensive Zone Coverage: The Penguins continued their recent winning ways in Friday night’s 5-4 victory over Carolina. While two more points in the standings were great, the Penguins did struggle a bit with defensive-zone coverage. Several times the Hurricanes were able to tally goals because of lost coverage by Pittsburgh.

Everyone Chips In:
Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin have carried the scoring for Pittsburgh during its 4-0-1 run, but it’s been the secondary contributions that have carried the Penguins. Wingers Chris Kunitz (3G-1A), Maxime Talbot (2G-2A), Pascal Dupuis (1G-2A) and Matt Cooke (1G-2A) have all supplied clutch goals at critical times.

C Jordan Staal, broken right hand (up to 3 weeks)
RW Byron Bitz, sports hernia (indefinitely)
RW Steve Bernier, orbital bone fracture (one month)
C Stephen Weiss, ankle (day-to-day)
LW Steven Reinprecht, groin (day-to-day)
RW Rostislav Olesz, finger fracture (day-to-day)
Crosby (14) Santorelli (6)
Crosby (19) McCabe (9)
Crosby (33) Frolik (12)
Engelland (44) Allen (19)
Letang (+9) McCabe (+8)
Crosby (5) Wideman (2)
Cooke (2)
Johnson (6-2-1) Vokoun (8-6-0)
Johnson (2.11) Vokoun (2.32)
Johnson (.927) Vokoun (.926)

Sidney Crosby - Pittsburgh’s captain has been at the center of the team’s recent 4-0-1 surge. Crosby, who ranks second in the NHL scoring race behind Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos, is riding a season-high eight-game scoring streak. During the stretch he has 18 points (8G-10A), including a four-point night (1G-3A) on Friday against the Hurricanes.
Mike Santorelli - The second-year forward, who leads the Panthers with six goals, has been red-hot. Santorelli has four goals over his past five games. He scored twice in Florida’s 4-1 defeat of the New York Islanders on Saturday night.

Players, Fathers Hope To Continue Winning Ways On 'Dad's Trip'       
Notebook: Fleury's Confidence Is Contagious             
Kunitz's Strong Play Leads Penguins               
Alyssa Milano Launches "Touch" at CONSOL Energy Center                      

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