-Naturally, on a night when there's freezing rain in Pittsburgh, the Penguins would be in Southern FLorida in the sun and sand.
-Tomas Vokoun gets the start against one of his former teams. We would expect/hope he has an outstanding effort for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, he was awful against the Flyers last Wednesday. From a standpoint of professional pride, he should want to rebound strongly. Second, he's facing a former team and he's getting the start with his family in the stands. That should give him a boost. Finally, the Panthers aren't very good.
-It looks like the Beau Bennett will return to the third line after having a fairly strong game on the second line against the Lightning Saturday. Matt Cooke returns to the second line in his place. We can only assume Dan Bylsma want's Cooke on the second line with Brandon Sutter and Pascal Dupuis to give it three true defensive players should he want to use that trio as a shutdown line. That's the only reason we can figure Bennett was demoted to the third line.
-Mark Eaton will not make his (re) debut with the Penguins tonight or by the sounds of things, any time soon. He hasn't played an NHL game in roughtly 10 months. It's going to take more than a handful of AHL games and a week of practice to get his 35-year-old body back into NHL game shape.
-The Panthers are missing a lot of talent tonight. On top of all the injuries they've endured, they're without center Stephen Weiss, probably their best player, as he is attending to the death of his grandmother. With Weiss absent and the outbreak of injuries, the Panthers are missing $22.475 million (in salary cap hits) tonight. Broken down:
Kris Versteeg, RW - $4.4 million
Ed Jovanovski, D - $4.125 million
Filip Kuba, D - $4 million
Scottie Upshall, LW - $3.5 million
Stephen Weiss, C $3.1 million
Sean Bergenheim, RW - $2.75 million
Michael Caruso, D - $600,000
-That is why you're seeing the likes of Scott Timmins and Colby Robak in the lineup.
-Alex Kovalev is not expected to be in the lineup. Enforcer George Parros, a Washington, Pa. native, is expected to dress. It'll be interesing to see if Dan Bylsma puts Robert Bortuzzo in the lineup in response.
-Jose Theodore, who has owned the Penguis throughout his career starts in net for the Panthers.
-In an informal survey of Penguins players we talked this past weekend, the team did not have a problem with how Panthers defenseman Erik Gudbranson hit Evgeni Malkin Friday. They just had a problem with the fact that it was the defending Hart Trophy winner getting injured on the hit. Don't be surprised if the Penguins have a word or two (or even more) with Gudbranson tonight. As one player told us, "I didn't mind the hit but that doesn't mean I won't say a few words to him."
EN reader April Tan is on hand in Sunrise Florida and sent a few photos:
-It looks like Bennet is on the second line after all. Okay then.
-The Penguins' starters are Beau Bennett, Pascal Dupuis, Brandon Sutter, Paul Martin, Brooks Orpik and Tomas Vokoun.
-Their scratches are Zach Boychuk, Simon Despres, Mark Eaton
-The Panthers starters are Jonathan Huberdeau, Peter Mueller, Drew Shore, Erik Gudbranson, Dmitry Kulkov and Jose Theodore.
-Their scratches are Filip Kuba, Alex Kovalev and Stephen Weiss.
18:13: Tomas Kopecky snaps off a wrister from the left wing of the Penguins' blue line. Fleury steers it away.
18:02: The Penguins get the first power play of the game as Shawn Matthias hookced up Tyler Kennedy on the right wing of the neutral zone. Kennedy falls to his knees and a whistle sblows. Martin, Chris Kunitz, Kris Letang, Sidney Crosby and James Neal take the ice.
17:49: Crosby cranks a slapper from the left circle. Mike Weaver blocks it.
17:29: Martin attempts a pass from the right circle to the slot but it's blocked by a stick.
16:02: The Penguins' power play is killed. They didn't really present much of a threat there. In fact, they didn't record one shot on net.
15:08: After Vokoun and Bortuzzo fumble a puck exchange behind the cage, Drew Shore tries to snap a wrister into the legs of Vokoun from the right wing corner. It hits Vokoun's leg and trips him up but doesn't deflect into the net.
13:48: From a deep ankle on the left wing, Glass snaps off a wrister low on net. Theodore kicks it out.
11:55: Letang settles a puck on the right half wall and snaps off a feed to Dustin Jeffrey driving in the slot. Jeffrey taps it wide to the right of the cage.
11:14: Off a pass from Jonathan Huberdeau, Peter Mueller booms a slapper from above the right circle over the cage.
10:21: Glass gets another early offensive chance as he snaps off a wrister from the left circle. Theodore boots it out.
8:50: After a turnover by Matt Niskanen behind his own net, Fleischmann smacks a slapper from the center point. Vokoun eats it up. Niskananen was paired with Bortuzzo that shift. They're not normally defensive partners. Perhaps there was some unfamiliarity with one another there that led to a turnover.
8:21: Shore chips a puck from the left wing on net with Huberdeau. Vokoun boots it out. Campbell and Shore each have chances on the rebound but can't get a clean shot off.
7:40: The Penguins attempt their "quick draw" faceoff play. Jeffrey wins a faceoff and Cooke snaps off a wrister from behind him in the left circle. It goes off the knob of Theodore's stick.
7:06: Kulikov touches up a puck behind the net for icing. Kennedy (and seemingly and a lot of people) isn't aware that it was icing and hits Kulikov. Sutter, Craig Adams, Martin and Orpik take the ice.
6:03: The Panthers' rotten power play breaks through. Campbell takes a pass at the left point move s into the left circle, waits for Letang to overskate and booms a slapper. Vkouns kicks it out with his left leg. Kopecky beats Dupuis to the puck and backhands it into the cage. A nice garbage goal. It looked like Campbell was expecting a rebound there. Campbell and Kulikov get assists. Panthers 1-0.
4:19: Crosby is on with Kennedy and Dupuis.
3:06: Off a feed by Bennett, Sutter has a chance with a backhander in tight but can't get a clean shot off
2:46: Huberdeau booms a slapper from above the left circle to the far side. Vokoun kicks it out with his left leg.
1:00: A wrister by Fleischmann from above the left circle deflects over the cage and out of play thanks to a block by Letang.
0:46: Kennedy (5-foot-11, 183 pounds) knocks Gudbranson (6-foot-5, 210 pounds) down at the blue line in front of the benches.
0:00: End of period. Panthers 1, Penguins 0.
-That was a pretty tepid period for the Penguins. Not a lot of energy or offensive chances. They didn't make a tone of mistakes or hurt themselves all that much. They didn't do a lot to help themselves either.
-The Penguins' first line was really quiet. Crosby, Neal and Kunitz didn't record a single shot on net. Yikes.
-The second line of Bennett, Sutter and Dupuis had a few chances but they were hardly of high quality.
-Glass, hardly a sniper, had the Penguins' best chances.
-The line of Huberdeau, Shore and Mueller has been carrying the Panthers most of the season and that continued that period. They were easily the most dangerous trio most of the period.
-The Panthers have a 12-8 lead in shots.
-Cooke leads thre game with three.
-Shore, Campbell, Kopecky and Mueller each lead the Panthers with two shots.
-Letang leads the game with 9:25 of ice time.
-Campbell leads the Panthers with 7:34 of ice time.
-The Panthers have a 9-7 lead in faceoffs (56 percent)
-Jarred Smithson is 5 for 5 (100 percent).
-Sutter is 3 for 5 (60 percent).
-Orpik leads the game with three blocked shots.
-None of the Panthers has more than one.
19:09: On a rushinto the offensvie zone, Crosby deals a forehand pass to Neal stationed on the right half wall. Neal settles the puck and chucks a wrister which beats Theodore's left skate on the near side. Not a great goal for Theodore to allow. Martin helped create that chance with a difficult backhanded outless pass from the left wing corner of his own zone. He hit Kunitz with the pass who then fed it to Crosby. Crosby and Kunitz get assists. Panthers 1, Penguins 1.
18:52: Off a pass from Mueller from the left wing corner, Shore one-touches it to Huberdeau to the right of the cage. Huberdeau swats the feed right through the crease with a seemingly wide open net.
18:41: Cooke chips the puck out of play from his own zone. That's delay of game. Sutter, Adams, Orpik and Martin take the ice.
18:29: A tough spot here for the Penguins as Orpik is called for elbowing Kopecky in the right wing corner. The Panthers wil have 1:48 of a five on ethree. Sutter, Martin and Adams take the ice.
17:51: Fleischmman chops a one-timer from the left circle but misses the net wide on the near side.
17:05: On a bad pass by Huberdeau, Campbell mishandles a puck at the left point and allows the pcuk to slide to Florida blue line. That allows the Penguisn to change lines.
16:45: Fleischman flings a wrister from above the right circle wide of the cage
16:38: Fleischmann takes a pass in the left cicle, and rips a wrister on net. It hits Kopecky directly in front of Vokoun. Kopeckys settles the puck, turns and tucks the puck by Vokoun's left late for a goal with a forehand shot. Adams bumps Kopecky form behind to the ice and he falls into Vokoun. Vokouns take ofense and slugs Kopecky with his glove hand. Kopekcy goes after Voun. All nine skates on the ice engage in a brawl. Vokoun throws more right hands at Kopekcy. Glass , Letang, Adams and Coke go at with all five Panthers skaters. What sequence. A whole mess of penalties are doled out. Kopecky gets four mintues for roughing. Letang, Vokoun and Campbell each get minors. Cooke will serve for Vokoun. The Penguins end up with a five-on-four powe rplay for two minutes. Crosby, Martin, Neal and Niskanen take the ice. Fleishmann and Campbell get assists on Kopecky's goal. Panthers 2-1.
15:38: Neal hustles up the left wing and snaps off a wrister on net. Theodore fights it off.
14:25: Jeffrey settles a puck at center point and rips a wrister wide to the left of the cage.
14:38: Play returns to five on five. Not a lot going on there for the Penguins. They recorded one shot on net with that power play.
12:46: Kulkov tries to play keepaway with the puck in the defnsive zone but is slashed by Glass. That's two minutes. He ended up getting Kulikov in the face so it's a high sticking minor. Sutter, Adams, Orpik and Martin take the ice.
11:37: Special teams are killing the Penguins. On a delayed peanlty. Campbell takes a pass from Kulikov on the left half wall. Campbell settles the puck, looks up and cranks a slapper to the far side which blows by Vokoun's blocker. An inexcusable goal. Kulkov and Shore get assists. Orpik gets a tripping minor for taking down Huberdeau. The Panthers get another power play. Sutter, Adams, Martin and Letang take the ice. Panthers 3-1.
11:06: Another power play goal. Off a pas from Fleischman in the left wing corner, Kopecky deals a little pass from the left of the crease to Marcel Goc positioned above the blue paint. Goch fends off Adams and Martin and jabs the puc through Vokoun's five hole. Vokoun is pulled for Fleury. Kopecky and Fleischmann get assists. Panthers 4-1.
10:48: Skille leads a rush up the left wing and BLAM! He's flattend on a shoulder hit by Deryk Engelland. They were teammates with Rosenborg IHK of Norway's GET Ligaen during the lockout.
10:09: What a wild game. Off a pass from Orpik, Jeffrey settles a puck and rips a wrister from above the left circle which sneaks through Theodore's gear and squirts into the net. Another bad goal to allow. Orpik and Bennett get assists. It's Bennett's first career assist. Panthers 4-2.
8:52: Crosby pushes the puck up the left wing on a partial two-on-one and hits Neal with a cross ice pass. Neal is deep on the right wing and rips a wrister. Theodore challenges and kicks it out.
8:30: Off an offensive zone faceoff win, Bortuzzo one-touches a point-to-point pass to Niskanen on the left point. Niskanen fires a one-timer which Theodore rejects.
8:11: Bortuzzo hammers a one-tmer from the left point. Theodore fights it off despite interference from Kunitz.
8:02: Kunitz is sent off for interfering with Theodore. Sutter, Orpik, Adams and Martin take the ice.
6:43: Crosby gets some time on te penalty kill. Off a cross ice pass from Campbell, Kulikov hammers a one-timer from the left circle. Fleury hugs it against his chest.
6:30: Fleischmann had a slapper form the left circle blocked by Adams.
6:09: Mueller has a one-time from the left point blocked by Glass.
6:02: The Kunitz minor expires. Great, gutsy effort by the Penguins to kill that.
5:52: Paul Martin to the rescue. Neal picks up the puck in his own zone, leads a rush up the left wing, gains the blue line, crosses over with Kunitz and deals to Martin racing up the left point. Martin hammers aone-timer over the left shoulder of Theodore on the near side. What. A. Shot. What a play by Neal to create that. He usually scores goals and doesn't really create them. Neal gets the only assist. Panthers 4-3.
4:33: Another penalty for the Penguins. Neal hooked up Campbell behind the Florida net. Orpik, Martin, Glass and Adams take the ice.
3:46: Huberdeau flings a wrister from the left point. It hits something on the way to the net and is punched away by Fleury's blocker.
2:59: Colby Robak pounds a slapper from the left point. It hits somethign in front and is stopped by Fleury. Letang plays the rebound out of the defensive zone.
2:33: Neal's minor is killed. The Panthers didn't generate much with that chance.
1:52: On a delayed penalty, the great Joe Vitale lifts a wrister on net froma tough angle on the left wing. Theodore fights it off. Play is halted. Huberdeau is nabbed fro trying to play the puck from the bench offa l ine change. That's called as interference. Neal, Kunitz, Crosby, Martin and Letang take the ice.
0:56: From center point, Martin deals a pass to Crosby in the left circle. Crosby whacks a one-timer which is wide on the near side.
0:44: Martin deals another pass from center point to Crosby in the left circle. Crosby strikes another one-timer which Theodore fights off.
0:40: What the?!!? Gudbranson makes a bad clearing attempt in the left wing corner. Crosby controls it on the wall and deals to Kunitz along the goal line on the left wing. Kunitz chips it into Theodore's skates and it deflects into the goal. Another awful goal by Thedore. The Penguins will take it. Their power play has scored in 13 consecutive games. Crosby gets the only assist. Panthers 4, Penguins 4.
0:00: End of period. Panthers 4, Penguins 4.
-What a whacky, bizarre, off-the-hook period. Up and down the ice. Sloppy defense and even worse goaltending. If you like offense, this was your period.
-If you like one-time Panthers goaltenders, this was not your period. Theodore and Vokoun were putrid. Vokoun didn't get a ton of help, but he needs to be better. Two bad games in two consecutive starts for him. Not a pleasant development. Theodore has been worse. The goals he has allowed have been leaky.
-What in the world happend to the Penguins' penalty kill? The Panthers, operating with a bare-bone roster of skill players, has shredded them with the man advantage. The lone positive is that the Penguins seemed to build some momentum after killing off two late Florida power plays.
-The lack of discipline by the Penguins has been alarming. They're taking lazy and selfish penalties at times.
-It's amazing what a hit can do to change momentum. Engelland's blast on Skille seemed to tip the ice. After that hit, the Penguins outshot the Panthers 8-4 and outscored them 3-0.
-Is it too early to nominated Paul Martin for the Norris Trophy? Okay... how about the Masterton Award?
-The Panthers have a 27-19 lead shots.
-Huberdeau leads the game with five shots.
-Neal leads the Penguins with four.
-Martin leads the game with 17:28 of ice time.
-Campbell leads the Panthers with 17:21.
-The Panthers have a 23-20 edge in faceoffs (53 percent).
-Smithson is 7 for 8 (88 percent).
-Crosby is 9 for 16 (56 percent).
-Engelland and Bortuzzo each lead the game with three blocked shots.
-Campbell leads the Panthers with two.
20:00: Scott Clemmendson mercifully replaces Theodore.
18:47: Fleischmann trips up Crosby at the blue line of the Panthers' zone. Crosby, Neal, Kunitz, Martin and Letang take the ice.
18:39: Off an offensive zone faceoff win in the right circle by Crosby, Letang trips and rips a wrister from above the left circle. Clemmensen gloves it.
16:41: The Fleischmann penalty expires. Not much going on there for the Penguins.
16:31: Fleischmann comesout of teh penalty and strikes. Smithson plays a missed shot off the left wing boards of his own zone up ice to Fleischmann. That creates a two-on-one with Shore against Niskanen. Niskanen races back to cover shore and leaves Fleischmann to Fleury. Fleischmann races in and rips a wrister from the left boards by Fleury on the far side. Great shot but Fleury needs to make that save. It's Fleischmann's 100th career goal. Smithson gets the only assist. Great play by him to recognize the situation. Panthers 5-4.
14:49: Martin settles a puck at the left point and whacks a slapper. Skille blocks it.
14:11: Off a drop apss from Crosby, Kunitz hammers a one-timer from the left circle. Clemmensen says no.
13:40: Kunitz has another chance in tight but can't beat Clemmensens.
13:28: Off a pass from Huberdeau, Shore lifts a wrister. Fleury fights it off but allows a rebound. Huberdeau follows up ont he rebound but can't punch it behind Fleury.
12:48: Off a blocked shot by Tyson Strachan, Kennedy races up the left wing and rips a wrister to the far sdie. Clemmensen steers it to the opposite wall.
12:08: A loose puck deflects to the right circle. Scott Timmins tries to play it but ends up poke checking the puck out of play. A bad break for the Panthers. That's two minutes for delay of game. Kennedy heads to the bench after taking a high high accidentally from Orpik in the left circle. Neal, Letang, Crosby, Martin and Kunitz take the ice.
11:08: A one-timer by Neal at the left point is blocked by Strachan and played down ice for a clear.
10:52: Crosby rips a wrister from the left wing wide on the near side.
10:18: On a chip in by the Penguins, Gudbranson chases after the puck in the right wing corner. He plays the puck but is slammed into the boads by a forechecking Bennett. Gudbranson is limping a bit after the hit and heads to the bench and retreates to the dressing room.
9:59: Kennedy puts a backhander on net from the left wing. Clemmensen holds it out.
9:50: Niskanen whacks a slapper from the left point. Clemmensen kicks it out. A fat rebound is sittiing in the slot but Timmins plays it out of danger.
9:30: Gudbranson returns to his bench.
9:22: Mueller lifts a wrister from th above the left circle. Fleury hugs it against his chest.
7:31: Kopecky pushes the puck up the right wing but is knocked off the puck by Bortuzzo. Kopecky bailed on the puck to avoid most of the hit.
6:35: Robak is in deep on the left wing and lifts a wrister on net. FLeury punches it away.
5:49: After a nifty move by Fleischmann by Sutter to the left of the cage, Santorelli has a chacne in teh slot but is tied up by Martin who flings the puck down ice and out of danger.
5:34: Sutter pushes the puck up the right wing deep and plays a puck towards the crease. Kulikov pokes it away but almost ends up punching it into his net. Thankfully for the Panthers and Kulikov, the puck goes wide.
4:50: Kunitz takes a pass in the slot and rips a wrister wide to the left of the cage.
3:34: After some furioius cycling down low, Kennedy tries to jam in a backhander from the left of the cage. Clemmensen holds it out.
3:25: BIG save. Mueller springd Huberdeau loose on a breakaway. Niskanen hoounds Huberdeau the whole way up the slot but avoids taking a penalty. Huberdeau moves in and lifts a wrister which Fleury bodies away. Great effort by Niskanen to pester Huberdeau enough to prevent a clean shot without taking a penalty.
1:25: Mueller has a chance in the left circle but a stick on puck by Niskanen sends the puck out of play.
1:04: As Fleury leaves for the bench, Cooke hammers a one-timer on net. Clemmensen kicks it out.
0:59: Gudbranson plays the rebound up ice off the left wing boards of his on zone. Kopecky settles the puck near his bench and banks the puck up ice off the right wing boards and into the open cage for one of us:
It's a hat trick for Kopecky, the first of his career. Gudbranson get a hat trick. Panthers 6-4.
0:49: Fleury is pulled again. Neal pushes the puck up the left wing and deals to Kunitz in the left circle. Kunitz jabs the puck on ice immediately. Clemmsensen maks th svae. The rebound pops up and is gloved by Clemmensen as the Penguins crash the net.
0:37: Martin flings a wrister from the left point. Weaver blocks it and plays it out of danger.
0:22: With an icing call against the Panthers, the Penguins call a timeout to get something organized.
0:02: Letang tire to jam in a forehand shot on the left side of the cage. Clemmensen fights it off.
0:00: End of game. Panthers 6, Penguins 4.
-This was just a bad game for the Penguins. No ifs ands or buts. A bad game plain and simple. The Penguins started out flat then got sloppy. Perhaps the Penguins just weren't up for this opponent as much as a rival like the Flyers or even a division leader like the Lightning. The Penguins just didn't seem very focused for most of the night.
-As we documented earlier in this post, the Panthers were missing a lot of their best players. Perhaps the Penguins just didn't have all that much jump facing a roster full of AHL players.
-To put it mildy, special teams were key. The Panthers punched in goals on the man advantage like a pinball machine. The Penguins struggled to get shots on net at times when they had the power play. The special teams failed the Penguins tonight.
-If not for a brutal performance by Jose Theodore, this game would have been more one-sided. He was a blessing for the Penguins.
-Regadless of how tight the officials may or may not have called the game, the Penguins killed themselves by taking penalties. Even against a team thin on talent and bodies like the Panthers, you just can't allow an opponent to have seven power plays.
-The Penguins' penalty kill was attrocious. The Panthers, short on skill tonight, kept things simple and just chucked pucks on net from the perimeter and hoped t generate offense that way. The Penguins did a lousy job of cleaning up garbabe around their crease.
-The past two games have been awful for Tomas Vokoun. We wouldn't be concerned about that but we would be curious about this development.
-Scott Clemmensen really settled things for the Penguins. The Penguins put some quality shots on net but he was able to calmly make saves. He spit out some safe rebound and really brought some stability which Theodore coulnd't provide.
-The lone bright spot for the Penguins was that they got a power-play goal for the 13th consecutive game. And the goal they got came at a key time to tie the game, 4-4, late in the second period. That said, they couldn't get much generated with the man advantage when they really needed. The Penguins had an early power play at the start of the third period and did zilch with it. They could have taken a lead at that point but fell flat. Then as that penalty expired, Tomas Fleischmann took advantage of a pinch-in by Kris Letang and scores the game winner. The power play has some impressive numbers, but tends to fail in clutch situations.
-Fleischmann recorded his first career hat trick. It's the fifth hat trick by a Panthers player against the Penguins all-time. The others were scored by Olli Jokinen (2), Radek Dvorak (1) & Dave Gagner (1).
-A positive development was the second goal in three games by Dustin Jeffrey. He has always had some scoring touch.
-The Panthers had a 36-34 lead in shots.
-Jonahan Huberdeau led the game with seven shots.
-James Neal led the Penguins with six.
-Paul Martin led the game with 27:24 of ice time.
-Brian Campbell led the Panthers with 25:33.
-The Panthers had a 32-30 edge in faceoffs (52 percent).
-Marcel Goc was 12 for 21 (57 percent).
-Sidney Crosby was 16 for 26 (62 percent).
-Campbell and Brooks Orpik each led the game with four blocked shots.
-Orpik (115 points) passed up Pete Mahovlich and Terry Ruskowski (114 each) for 70th most points in franchise history.