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Penguins home-winning streak snapped by Panthers

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Welp, the Pittsburgh Penguins are no longer streaking at home after having their thirteen-game home winning streak snapped by the Florida Panthers on Monday night by the score of 5-1. Ouch. The Penguins definitely looked rusty, playing their first game in almost a week, and the Panthers took advantage of that.

The pregame warm-up indicated the returns of James Neal, Chuck Kobasew, Jayson Megna, and Paul Martin to the Pittsburgh lineup with Kobasew starting the game on the top line with Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz. Lately, the Penguins have had an issue with defending on the power play. Around the fifteen minute mark, Tom Gilbert was sent to the penalty box for hi-sticking Evgeni Malkin, putting Pittsburgh on the power play. Just like in the previous game against the Capitals, the Penguins gave up a shorthanded goal on an odd-man rush the other way. This time, a deflected shot from Malkin sent the Panthers on their way with Drew Shore and Marcel Goc going against Kris Letang. Letang laid out to take away the cross-ice pass from Shore to Goc, but Shore picked his corner and sniped the puck past Marc-Andre Fleury to give Florida the 1-0 lead. The Panthers took their one-goal lead into the intermission, but were outshot by the Penguins, 14-7.

The second period was similar to the first. The Panthers led in shots, 12-10, but just like the opening period, Drew Shore registered the only goal. Shore’s second goal of the game was at even strength this time, and gave flashbacks to those behind the net plays that Sean Bergenheim and Dominic Moore did to the Penguins while they were with the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 2011 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. Playing the role of Moore was Jonathan Huberdeau who held the puck behind the Pittsburgh net before finding Shore, who was coming off the bench, to give Florida a 2-0 lead. At the second break, the Panthers held their 2-0 lead while the Penguins looked as if they were still in practice mode.

The game opened up in the third and final period. Before you can get settled with your beverage of choice, the Panthers made it a three-goal game. At 1:17, Jesse Winchester unleashed a shot of the end boards that found its way to Dmitry Kulikov. Kulikov then maneuvered around Paul Martin and backhanded the puck behind a down-and-out Fleury. The Penguins attempted to make a comeback when Matt Niskanen took a pass from Kris Letang and fired the puck on Scott Clemmensen which trickled over the goal line to make it a 3-1 game about fifteen minutes remaining. That’s as close as the Penguins would get as Jonathan Huberdeau sent Penguins fans home early when he gave Florida a 4-1 lead as he and the puck ended up in the back of the net at 13:50. The people in Toronto took forever to review the play just to tell us what we all already knew (that it was a good goal). Just to make sure the Penguins couldn’t make a comeback, the Panthers made it a 5-1 game with about six minutes left in the game when Shawn Matthias beat Matt Niskanen to the goal and wristed the puck behind Fleury to seal the game for the Florida Panthers.

This week the Penguins only have one day until their next game as they take on the Montreal Canadiens Wednesday night in Pittsburgh (7:00 pm/et; Root Sports, TSN, RDS).

Notes:

-Not really known for his scoring, but Jesse Winchester had himself a three-point game with three assists.

-Paul Martin logged 20:06 of ice time in his first game in two months.

-It was Dan Bylsma bobblehead night.

-Great quote from Matt Niskanen after the game.

Three stars:

1. FLA C Drew Shore (2G)

2. FLA G Scott Clemmensen (35 saves, .972 save %)

3. FLA C Jesse Winchester (3A)

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