What a night for the Florida Panthers! Drew Shore scored twice, the first multi-goal game of his NHL career, to stake the Cats to a 2-0 lead, and Scott Clemmensen held the mighty Penguins to a single goal as Florida pounded Pittsburgh 5-1 at Consol Energy Center. The Panthers' win ended the Penguins' franchise-record thirteen-game winning streak on home ice.
Jesse Winchester returned from injured reserve to set up three scores and Jonathan Huberdeau ended a long drought with his first goal since December 7th, against the Detroit Red Wings.
In addition to holding down the fort, Clemmensen picked up the lone helper on Shore's game-opening shorthanded goal at 15:46 of the first period. Shore made the right decision and elected to shoot on a 2-on-1 rush, beating Marc-Andre Fleury with a fine wrist shot.
Shore struck again, this time in the second period, firing the puck in of Fleury's shoulder from the slot to finish off a play started by Huberdeau and Winchester.
Dmitry Kulikov scored early in the third to extend Florida's lead to three. Marcel Goc and Winchester picked up the helpers on the defender's fourth of the season. Kulikov also found the back of the net in Saturday night's 3-2 loss to Carolina.
The Penguins finally got on the board when Matt Niskanen ended Clemmensen's shutout bid at the 5:11 mark.
Florida put the game away later in frame when Huberdeau and Shawn Matthias scored in a twelve-second span. Nick Bjugstad set up the Huberdeau tally, while Winchester teamed with Mike Weaver to collect the assists on Matthias' marker.
Coach Peter Horachek asked for desperation and he got it, as the Panthers produced one of their best wins of the season. It was an absolute treat watching the goal-challenged Shore fire home a brace, and great to see Huberdeau and Matthias finally light the lamp again. The Panthers need more nights like, where guys other than Boyes, Barkov and Bergenheim contribute offensively, if they are going to stay in the playoff hunt. The Cats have a chance to end the road trip successfully tonight in Buffalo. Let's hope we see more of what we saw last night.
Odds & Ends
- The victory gave the Panthers a two to one win over the Penguins in the season-series. A pretty sweet accomplishment considering the Pens are twenty-five points ahead of the Cats in the standings.
- After missing the last fourteen games with a hand injury, hard-working Jesse Winchester returned to the lineup and made a huge impact by setting up three of the last four Florida goals.
- After a good game (and pretty assist) against the Hurricanes, it was encouraging to see Huberdeau follow up with a two-point performance. The goal was his first in eighteen games, including the two he missed with a foot injury.
- Marc-Andre Fleury had a rough night, allowing five goals on just twenty-eight Florida shots.
- Props to the Panthers for shutting down Sidney Crosby, Chris Kunitz and the rest of the Penguins dangerous forwards. Evgeni Malkin, with an assist, was the only big gun to pick up a point.
- The loss was Pittsburgh's first at home since November 13th when they were beaten by cross-state rivals, the Philadelphia Flyers.
- Shawn Matthias potted his first goal (and point) since scoring on December 20th against the Winnipeg Jets. Danger went scoreless in ten and was a healthy scratch once in that span.
- Scott Clemmensen raised his record to 6-4-1 on the season. He has won six of his last eight starts and is the only Florida keeper with a winning record.
- In what has become a commonplace occurrence, the Panthers did not score or give up a power-play goal.
- Put on your hardhat and ahead over to PensBurgh for more on last night's action.