NHL Preview: Pittsburgh Penguins at Florida Panthers – Panthers Favored
Florida looks to continue its dominance of Pittsburgh on Wednesday when the teams meet for the second time this season.
The Panthers (15-20-9) had won 12 straight against the Penguins (18-16-7) before that streak ended with a 5-1 home loss on April 7. Florida shrugged off that defeat with a 3-2 victory at Pittsburgh on Dec. 5 in the first matchup this season.
The 19-year-old Crosby scored and set up another goal in last month’s loss, giving him three goals and five assists in five career games against the Panthers. The Penguins, though, are 1-3-1 against the Panthers since Crosby broke into the league.
Crosby scored his 21st goal Tuesday in a 3-2 loss at Tampa Bay as Pittsburgh was swept in the home-and-home series.
It was announced late in the third period that Crosby, the NHL leader with 65 points, became the youngest player elected by fans to the All-Star Game.
“It’s an honor. Growing up watching it, and who would have dreamed of playing in it?” Crosby said. “It’s something I will enjoy.”
The Penguins have lost seven of 10 since winning four in a row from Dec. 9-15.
“We are only getting scoring from one line right now,” Pittsburgh coach Michel Therrien said. “The other three lines score once every three games.”
Rookie Evgeni Malkin was held without a point Tuesday, ending his five-game streak. He had two goals and seven points over the stretch.
Florida returns home after going winless on a three-game road trip through Western Canada that ended with a 4-3 shootout loss to Vancouver on Sunday.
“We battled hard but obviously (Vancouver goaltender Roberto) Luongo was outstanding out there,” captain Olli Jokinen said. “I feel bad for Eddie (Belfour) though. We had three chances to put the game away in the shootout and didn’t score.
“That’s what usually happens over there when Luongo is in net.”
The Panthers remained the only NHL team without an overtime win this season, dropping to 0-6 in shootouts. They have scored only three times in 26 shootout attempts.
“Once again, we have to find a way to score,” defenseman Mike Van Ryn said. “It’s disappointing because we gave up one more point. We need all the points we can get, and we’re having trouble closing games out. I don’t know if it’s nerves or not, but these are two points we could have used.”
Getting back to the BankAtlantic Center should provide a boost for the Panthers, who have at least a point in four straight home games (3-0-1). They are 10-8-2 at home while 5-12-7 on the road.
Judging by his recent history against the Penguins, Belfour figures to be in net for Florida in this contest. He has won five straight and nine of his last 10 starts against Pittsburgh, allowing only eight goals during the five-game streak.
Jokinen has 11 goals and 12 assists in his last 15 games against the Penguins.
by: Gary Roberts – theSpread.com – Email Us
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