For the first time in what seems like awhile, the Pittsburgh Penguins fell behind on the road against the Florida Panthers, and had to scratch and claw their way back. However, it just wasn’t meant to be as Florida and Tomas Kopecky held on to win, 6-4.
Unlike many of their past road games, Pittsburgh fell behind in the first period and gave up the first goal of the game when Tomas Kopecky capitalized on a Tyler Kennedy boarding penalty. That was all the scoring in the first period as the Panthers peppered Tomas Vokoun with twelve shots compared to eight by the Penguins. Florida also took the 1-0 lead into the intermission.
The second period was filled with action and scoring from both sides. Fifty-one seconds into the period, James Neal tied the game off a pass from Sidney Crosby. The tie lasted all of about two minutes until Pittsburgh took another penalty, and Kopecky struck again for his seventh goal of the season. At this point of the period, it was all Panthers. At 8:23 Brian Campbell gave Florida yet another power play goal, and that was followed by a Marcel Goc power play goal to give the Panthers a 4-1 lead. With Florida taking a three-goal lead, Dan Bylsma made the decision to pull ex-Panther Vokoun for Marc-Andre Fleury. This move may have sparked something in the Penguins as they started to turn the tables on Florida. Dustin Jeffrey sparked the Penguins comeback with a shot that somehow trickled its way behind Jose Theodore. Paul Martin got in line behind Jeffrey when he brought Pittsburgh within one of Florida with a booming slap shot at 14:08. With the Penguins trailing 4-3, and the period winding down, Jonathan Huberdeau of the Panthers took an interference penalty that set up Chris Kunitz to tie the game at four. Kunitz’s power play goal marked the twelfth straight game where the Penguins produced a goal on the man advantage. The two combatants took a 4-4 tie into the break.
Similar to the decision Bylsma made in the second period, Panthers’ coach Kevin Dineen made the move to replace Theodore with Scott Clemmensen to start the third period. The stalemate between the two sides lasted for about three and a half minutes when, at that time, Tomas Fleischmann haunted the Penguins once again with his fifth goal of the year to put Florida up 5-4. With less than a minute left, Kopecky would finish the Penguins off with an empty netter to complete his first career hat trick and seal the 6-4 victory for the Panthers.
The Penguins continue on to North Carolina for a 7:00 p.m. et faceoff with Jordan Staal and the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday night, the second of their three-game road trip.
-Fleischmann’s goal was his 100th of his career.
-Panthers were 4-7 on the power play after coming into the game in a 0-17 drought.
-Penguins came into tonight’s game ranked 17th in penalty killing. Expect that to fall a bit farther down the list.
1. Tomas Kopecky (3 goals, 1 assist)
2. Tomas Fleischmann (1 goal, 2 assists)
3. Brian Campbell (1 goal, 2 assists)