After coming off a heart-stopping loss to the Philadelphia Flyers, the Pittsburgh Penguins were back at Friday night against the Florida Panthers. After a slow start by both teams, the Penguins were able to grab their twelfth victory of the year, defeating the Panthers 3-1.
The first period was absent of the action and scoring that the Penguins had come accustom to in their past couple of games. Both the Penguins and Panthers had some chances, but both Marc-Andre Fleury and Jacob Markstrom were walls in the nets. At 16:24 of the period (skip to 1:05 for the incident) there was a tense moment when Peter Mueller tripped Brooks Orpik as the two were racing for the puck. Orpik went into the boards feet first, but appeared to be fine. The Penguins took a 12-3 lead in shots into the first intermission.
Like the first period, the second period didn’t have too much going for it either. At 8:05 of the period, Panthers defenseman Mike Weaver rifled a shot past Fleury for his first goal of the season. A few minutes later, Jerred Smithson took a hooking penalty on Sidney Crosby and gave the Penguins a power play. Pittsburgh put their third-ranked power play to good use as Chris Kunitz cashed in with his seventh goal of the year. Florida and Pittsburgh took their 1-1 stalemate into the locker rooms, with the Penguins once again leading 15-10 in shots.
Period three saw the Penguins take the game over from the Panthers. Matt Niskanen gave the Penguins a 2-1 lead a little over seven minutes into the period when he blasted a shot from the point past the catching glove of Markstrom. Pittsburgh would add to their lead at 15:15 of the period when number fifteen Dustin Jeffrey got his first goal of the season, and prompted one of the most awkward celebrations you will see. A somewhat somber moment occurred in the period when Evgeni Malkin was pushed by Erik Gudbranson and slid back-first into the boards. The reigning Hart trophy winner left the game, looking to be in a lot of discomfort. The Penguins would hold their 3-1 lead, and add one to their win total.
The Penguins welcome the Tampa Lightning to Consol Energy Center for a 7:30 p.m. et faceoff on Sunday, February 24.
-Dustin Jeffrey’s goal was his first since February 18, 2012.
-Beau Bennett saw 14:59 of ice time, most of which was on the second line with Malkin and James Neal.
1. Matt Niskanen (1 goal)
2. Marc-Andre Fleury (22 saves, .957 save %)
3. Jacob Markstrom (37 saves, .925 save %)