Ah, the power play. What might have been, and all. The surprising Cats (and we all should agree: heading into this one at 9-9, is anyone not impressed, especially considering the complete lack of a power play?) were given every opportunity to skate away with at least a point, but the punchless Florida "special team" (note the subtle quotes) presented yet again another 0-for-5 effort on the man-advantage. They're pretty "special", alright. Conversely, Pittsburgh went 2-for-6. As far as numbers go, there's your game, plain and simple. Getting to be an extraordinarily old story.
Seriously...the Panthers had a chance to win this - even after surrendering the first frame; an increasingly painful storyline which has yet to be addressed. Not surprisingly, even their vaunted penalty kill - finally kicked in the can when it mattered most to the opposition - could not keep things close.
Said it two days ago and we'll say it again: there is a strong nucleus in South Florida. Stronger perhaps than anyone had predicted this early - including me. Given the Panthers' ability to remain scoring within ballpark range of the better half of the Eastern Conference, why is the power play such a mess?
(Forgive me for any apparent lapses in timeliness...FS Florida is double-dipping into the Lady Gaga advertisements, so I'm closing in on assuming the role of the kid with the evil pumpkin mask in Halloween 3: Season of the Witch.)
Extras: Kris Letang (PP), Sidney Crosby (PP, 1a), and Chris Conner scored for Pittsburgh with assists to Paul Martin, Tyler Kennedy, Evgeni Malkin, Mark Letestu, and Zbynek Michalek. Crosby had 5 SOG in 22:11(!) TOI...and a minus-1. Scoring for Florida were Cory Stillman and Bryan McCabe, with assists to Jason Garrison, Michael Frolik, David Booth, and Bill Thomas. Cats' D-man Dennis Wideman - again - led all skaters with 24:04, followed on the Florida roster by - wait for it - forward Booth (1a, even) with 23:48...are we into triple-shifting territory yet? Tomas Vokoun stopped 23 shots while Pittsburgh's Marc-Andre Fleury - not lately considered the darling of NHL goaltending - closed the door on 27 for the victory.
More from the Steel City at PensBurgh here.
Next up: Bruins at Panthers on Wednesday; Live Game Chat at 7pm.