FINAL SCORE: Penguins 4, Panthers 20:00:
That's game! The Pens regain their three-point lead over Tampa Bay in the standings with a solid 4-2 victory over Florida!1:30:
As soon as Letang's penalty expires, Craig Adams
nets an empty-net goal to give the Pens a 4-2 lead! Must be the Mohawk he came to practice with today!1:55:
Florida now has a 5-on-4 advantage.3:17:
The Panthers get a couple of cracks on the doorstep, but Johnny is up to the task!!!3:30:
Letang gets whistled for hooking, and the Panthers will have a 4-on-3 advantage for 1:10 minutes.4:04:
We're skating 4-on-4 as Adams and Clay Wilson got coincidental penalties.4:34:
Bylsma decides to use his timeout as the Pens are about to line up for a defensive zone faceoff.5:09:
Johnny with another great save on a speeding David Booth!7:11:
After Mark Letestu draws a penalty, the Pens manage to keep controlling the puck on the delayed call and pull Johnny for the extra attacker. The puck rings around the boards to Staal, who makes a beauty of a play when he shields the puck from a Panther and drops a pass between his legs to Martin, who quickly dishes to D partner Michalek. Michalek proceeds to absolutely RIP a shot far side past Clemmensen!!! Penguins 3, Panthers 27:49:
Johnny with a phenomenal wheeling glove save on Booth!!!9:52:
'Cats back to full strength.10:59:
Neal gets a shot to the cage with Staal establishing net-front presence, the rebound jumps out into the slot and a horde of bodies tries to corral the puck. The ref finally loses sight of the puck and blows the whistle.11:52:
Now the Pens are getting a PP as Ryan Carter is in the box for hooking Staal!12:06:
The 'Cats use their timeout. 13:15:
Pens back to full strength!13:59:
The Pens are doing a fantastic job of controlling the play. Love their aggressiveness despite being a man down.15:15:
The Panthers furiously assault the Pens net, and the first penalty of the game is going to be called on the play as Niskanen is whistled for holding. Pens on the PK. The Panthers have the league's 29th-ranked PP.17:30:
Letestu sprints down the ice and releases a shot at Clemmensen, which hits the Panthers netminder square in the head.17:47:
Steve Bernier lobs a shot at Johnny that takes a funny bounce off the Pens netminder, but he jumps up and gloves the wobbling puck!20:00:
The final frame has commenced!THIRD PERIOD
Sam Kasan's photo of Florida from this morning. ...Sigh. Palm trees are the ultimate symbol of sunny paradise.SECOND PERIOD NOTES
- Dupuis now has four shots, as does Conner
- Pens are outhitting the Panthers by a 31-19 margin
- 17 of 18 Pens have been credited with at least one hit
- Adams and Comrie each have four hits0:00:
The first 40 minutes are in the books. The two teams are now tied 2-2 and the Pens are now outshooting the Panthers by a 21-18 margin.
A No. 66 jersey all the way down in Florida!1:00:
Talbot releases a hard shot to the net with Conner hoping to get the rebound, but no dice.3:07:
Kovalev makes a great give-and-go play to Letestu, who carries down and drops a pass to Orpik. The Pens defenseman's shot goes to the net with a pair of Penguins crashing hard, but Clemmensen covers for the whistle. 4:33:
After Niskanen makes a great defensive play to curtail what could have been a quality Panthers scoring chance, Dupuis swoops down and carries the puck out of the Pens D zone, eventually getting a shot on net.5:53:
The Pens have allowed the Panthers just three shots on goal so far this period. 7:30:
A couple of quality chances by the Dupuis-Talbot-Conner line as Conner gets a shot to the net and Dupuis and Talbot pounce on the rebound. They're doing a great job of crashing the cage and working the puck low.8:48:
Kunitz tees off a quick shot to the net, but it's absorbed by Clemmensen.11:05:
Talbot closes in and fires, but his shot hits a Panthers defender and bounces out of play.14:04:
Dmitry Kulikov meanders down the ice and finds a lane to the net, but Johnny comes way out of his net to challenge and Lovejoy is able to clear the puck. 15:57:
The Panthers are attacking hard and keep play corralled in the Pens D zone, but Pittsburgh is eventually able to clear.19:15:
The line of Dupuis, Talbot and Conner is finally rewarded for their fantastic play just 45 seconds into the middle frame! Conner one-hands a pass to Talbot after battling hard in the corner, who spins around and sends a cross-crease pass to a wide-open Dupuis, who taps the puck into a wide-open net! Penguins 2, Panthers 220:00:
Puck drops. Game on!SECOND PERIOD
FIRST PERIOD NOTES
- Conner leads all skaters with four shots – just one shy of matching his season high
- Letestu has won all three of his faceoffs
- Kennedy has reached the 20-goal mark for the first time in his career
- Staal now has 100 career assists
- Kunitz is now three points shy from hitting the 50-point mark for the fourth time in the past five seasons0:00:
That'll do it for a quick-moving first. The Panthers take a 2-1 lead into the first intermission and they're outshooting the Pens by a 15-12 margin.1:27:
The Pens break out of their zone nicely and Dupuis rips a shot on goal that is saved by the Panthers netminder. Pens are being outshot 14-10.2:02:
The Pens are attacking hard over these last few minutes, cumulating with Martin's cannon from the point that Clemmensen finds and covers.3:31:
Johnny absorbs a shot by David Booth and holds on for the faceoff. 5:00:
The Panthers collect the puck in the Pens' D zone and head up the ice. Samsonov slides a pass over to a speeding Clay Wilson, who fires a shot over Johnny's glove. Panthers 2, Penguins 15:22
: Jack Skille crashes the net hard, corrals a pass from Marty Reasoner and beats Johnny far side to even the score. Penguins 1, Panthers 18:14:
The line of Dupuis, Talbot and Conner has been establishing quite a bit of offensive zone time this period. They're looking good out there.9:04:
The Panthers are sending a lot of sharp-angle shots to the net so far this period –
the ones that can surprise you since it seems like they come out of nowhere. But Johnny's been up to the task on every one.10:29:
Johnny with a couple of huge saves! First he manages to steer a centering pass to the corner, then he smothers a shot from the point through traffic. He's sure looking sharp early.
Man, does the weather in Florida look gorgeous. Reminds me of one of my favorite movie lines by one of my favorite actors in Forgetting Sarah Marshall
– "Oh, the weather outside is weather..." 11:28:
Niskanen sends a puck to the net that finds its way through traffic but deflects up and out of play.13:05:
Niskanen sends a pretty pass to a cutting Talbot, who niftily dances around a Panthers defender to give himself an open look at the net. But his shot is turned aside by Clemmensen.15:14:
Although the Pens got on the board first and have come out strong from the drop of the puck, the Panthers are testing Johnson early. They've gotten a couple of quality shots on him during these first five minutes. 18:15: Jordan Staal
carries down the ice and drops a pass to a trailing Tyler Kennedy
, who absolutely snipes a shot into the top right corner of the cage past Panthers goalie Scott Clemmensen! TK has now reached the 20-goal mark for the first time in his career and Staalsy now has 100 career assists! Penguins 1, Panthers 019:36:
The Pens get a great chance early, as the line of Dupuis, Talbot and Conner head down the ice on a 3-on-1 rush! Talbot tries to send a cross-ice feed to Conner, but the puck deflects off his skate and out of danger.20:00:
And they're off in the Sunshine State! FIRST PERIOD
Don't forget that tonight is the very first Penguins telecast on ROOT SPORTS, the new brand identity for what was formerly FSN Pittsburgh. Click here
to read more.
6:56 PM: Deryk Engelland
, Arron Asham
, Eric Godard, Eric Tangradi
and Dustin Jeffrey
are the Pens' scratches. Brent Johnson
gets the nod between the pipes.
Tonight the Penguins will complete their two-game road swing through sunny Florida when they take on the Panthers at BankAtlantic Center
in just a few minutes after battling the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday.
This is an absolutely huge game for a couple of reasons, the first one being the race for the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference and home-ice advantage for at least the first round of the playoffs. The second is the importance of establishing some momentum heading into the postseason.
The Lightning actually played earlier this afternoon, topping Minnesota by a score of 3-1. That cut No. 4 Pittsburgh's lead over No. 5 Tampa Bay to just one point. Counting tonight's game, the Pens and the Lightning can each earn a maximum of eight points in their last four games. But once tonight's tilt is over, Tampa Bay will have a game in hand on the Penguins. So a regulation loss by Pittsburgh tonight would mean that Tampa Bay could overtake them for the fourth seed if the Lightning win their last four games in regulation.
Basically, what I'm trying to say is that the race for the No. 4 seed is currently neck and neck between Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay, and every game is a must-win for the Pens if they want to play the first two games of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals at CONSOL Energy Center. But the good news is that the Pens have already assured themselves no worse than the fifth seed with their great play down the stretch. Check out today's Penguins Report
to see what some of the guys had to say about the race for home-ice advantage and the importance of establishing momentum.
The Pens will hop on the team plane and head back to Pittsburgh following tonight's game. With that being said, here's a classic song to commemorate the end of the Pens' trip through the Sunshine State.
And although I don't watch American Idol religiously, I did discover this version of "Ain't No Sunshine" by Kris Allen from season 8 of the show. He has a great voice, you should honestly take a listen!