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Pens-Panthers Preview

by Staff Writer / Pittsburgh Penguins

PENGUINS (3-0-0) vs. PANTHERS (1-3-0)
  WHEN: October 10, 2013 - 7:30 p.m.  |  WHERE: BB&T Center
WATCH: ROOT SPORTS  |  LISTEN: Penguins Radio 24/7, 105.9 FM

Season series: The Pittsburgh Penguins make the first of two visits this season to Florida before the Panthers come to CONSOL Energy Center on Jan. 20. Pittsburgh won two of the three games between the teams last season, with each team winning once at BB&T Center.

Big story:
The Panthers return to South Florida for their home opener after a grueling four-game trip that left them with two points and several injuries. They didn't get the ideal opponent; the Penguins have won each of their first three games by three goals and have been off since beating the Carolina Hurricanes 5-2 on Tuesday night.

Team Scope:

With back-to-back games against the Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning, the Penguins may give rookie goaltender Jeff Zatkoff a chance to show what he can do.

They're not worried about it.

"I think he's a good goalie," captain Sidney Crosby told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review before the team left for Florida on Thursday. "You don't want to leave him hung out to dry or anything, but honestly, I don't think we need to change the way we're playing when he gets in there. He's been good. He looks calm."

Zatkoff is on the roster because Tomas Vokoun is sidelined after undergoing surgery to treat a blood clot in his pelvis. Marc-Andre Fleury has been in goal for Pittsburgh's first three games, allowing only three goals to fuel a 3-0-0 start.

This isn't the scenario coach Kevin Dineen planned for his team's home opener. The Panthers started the season with a road win against the Dallas Stars, but were routed 7-0 by the St. Louis Blues, lost 2-1 to the Philadelphia Flyers and were routed 7-2 by the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday night, when Steven Stamkos had a hat trick.

"We didn't respond well to pressure," Dineen said after the loss to Tampa Bay. "When they pressured our players, instead of responding to that, understanding that it was coming, I think it created turmoil for us."

Who's hot:
Penguins center Jussi Jokinen is coming off a hat trick in a 5-2 win against the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday. … Brad Boyes has goals in each of Florida's past two games.

Injury report: The Penguins are without forwards James Neal (upper-body) and Matt D'Agostini (lower-body), as well as defenseman Kris Letang (lower-body) and Vokoun. … Florida is missing goaltender Tim Thomas (groin), who didn't play after leaving Tuesday's game in the first period. Forwards Sean Bergenheim (groin) and Steve Pinizzotto (hip) and defenseman Ed Jovanovski haven't played this season.

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