12:31 p.m. – I’m told goaltender Marc Andre Fleury will make his 6th consecutive start tonight. Fleury is 4-0-1 in his last 5 starts and has posted a 5-6-1 record with a 2.95 GAA on the season.
The plan going into the two game road trip was for Brent Johnson to start one of the two games and Johnson will get the start Wednesday night against Buffalo.
Tomas Vokoun will start in goal for the Florida Panthers. Vokoun is 8-6 on the season with a 2.33 GAA and .926 save percentage.
Vokoun has given up 1 goal or less in 4 of his last 5 starts.
Pittsburgh has won 3 of 4 against Florida.
When: November 22 2010 | Where: Bank Atlantic Center
Pittsburgh has points in four of five and has pulled to within four points of Philadelphia, who leads the Atlantic Division. The Florida Panthers are last in the Southeast but playing .500 hockey, a mark which exceeds many preseason projections made for a club considered to be in a rebuilding mode. They meet for the first of four games Monday evening in South Florida.
Florida has been a surprise this season, 9-9-0 so far but still placed last in a suddenly competitive Southeast Division. Pittsburgh improved to 11-8-2 after a hairy shootout victory against Carolina and vies to keep pace in the Atlantic.
9-9-0, 18 pts.
5th Southeast, 12th East
5-2-0 Home, 4-7-0 Road
6-4-0 Last 10
2.8 goals per game (19th)
2.5 goals against per game (6th)
8.1 percent PP (30th)
87.3 percent PK (6th)
33.39 shots per game (4th)
31.2 shots against per game (18th)
0 shorthanded goals, 1 shorthanded allowed
132 PIM (fewest in league)
11-8-2, 24 pts.
2nd Atlantic, 6th East
5-5-1 Home, 6-3-1 Road
6-3-1 Last 10
3.0 goals per game (7th)
2.7 goals against per game (11th)
13.5 percent PP (25th)
88.5 percent PK (4th)
31.6 shots per game (10th)
27.1 shots against per game (1st)
4 shorthanded goals, 3 allowed
337 PIM (6th-most)
Despite their struggles last year, Florida played the Penguins tough, beating them once and taking them to overtime three times. Florida is 7-6-0 in conference play this season, and need the win to stay above .500.
Pittsburgh finally brought their home record to .500 with the win over Carolina, and looks to continue winning on the road. Pittsburgh is 6-3-1 away from home.
Florida is a stout defensive team. Goaltender Tomas Vokoun is playing like it’s a contract season (it is), keeping the team afloat with a 2.33 GAA and .926 save percentage with two shutouts.
Florida is sixth in the NHL in overall defense and penalty kill success, at 2.8 GA per game and 87.3 percent, respectively. Other than veteran Bryan McCabe and Boston acquisition Dennis Wideman, head coach Peter DeBoer has assembled a no-name defense and turned them into a top-10 unit.
The Panthers’ offensive struggles have been immense. The team is 19th in goals per game and dead last on the power play (8.1 percent).
Mike Santorelli leads the Panthers with 6 goals – by comparison, Crosby leads the Penguins with 14. Bryan McCabe leads Florida with 9 assists, 10 fewer than Crosby.
Michael Frolik is the team leader with 12 points. Crosby leads Pittsburgh with 33 in 22 games, 1 fewer than Steven Stamkos and 7 more than Alexander Semin, Alex Ovechkin and Martin St. Louis (tied at 26).
Pittsburgh’s role players have stepped up lately. Chris Kunitz chipped in two goals Friday against Carolina, giving him 7 on the season. Max Talbot, Matt Cooke and Pascal Dupuis have all scored multiple points during the team’s 4-0-1 run.
The power play gets another run at it tonight. Paul Martin will remain on the top PP unit while Alex Goligoski struggles with his decision-making and puck handling once again.
Pittsburgh’s PK unit continues to play dominant hockey. The Pens haven’t surrendered a PP goal since allowing 1 to Tampa Bay in 8 chances. The PK has is 12 for 12 in four games since Tampa.
Key to the game? Don’t let teams stick around. The Penguins will be hard pressed to blow any lead to a team ranking in the bottom third of the league in all major offensive categories, but they managed to lose three one-goal leads in the Carolina game before the shootout ensured there were no leads left to surrender.
Marc-Andre Fleury will get his 6th straight start tonight. Fleury is 4-0-1 on the streak, bringing his record to within a game of .500 after starting 1-6-0.
Ben Lovejoy will return to the lineup but the decision has little to do with Deryk Engelland’s play. Lovejoy will get back in there due to the Penguins being on their annual “Dad’s” trip.
Mike Comrie and Eric Godard were the extra forwards in the morning but one of the two could get in due to the “Dad’s” trip.
Jordan Staal – hand (2-3 weeks)
Byron Bitz – hernia (indefinitely)
Steve Bernier – facial fracture (3-4 weeks)
Stephen Weiss – ankle (questionable)
Steven Reinprecht – groin (questionable)