Pittsburgh 3 – Florida 2
Summary: The Pittsburgh Penguins are starting to put their early season struggles and inconsistent play into the past, as the Penguins are on a roll of late, defeating the Florida Panthers 3-2 Monday night to extend their winning streak to three games and points streak to six games.
Chris Conner netted his first goal of the season at the 12:56 mark, breaking a 2-2 and Pittsburgh came up with a big penalty kill late in the game to secure to the 3-2 win.
Pittsburgh went 5-for-5 on the PK and are establishing into one of the elite PK units in the game, even without their best defensive forward in Jordan Staal.
Marc Andre Fleury made his 6th straight start and had a strong game, making 27 saves to earn his 6th win of the season.
Sidney Crosby (15) had a power play goal and an assist, extending his points streak to 9 games. Crosby has 20 points in his last 9 games and 35 points in 22 games on the year.
Crosby and Kris Letang (4) tallied power play goals as Pittsburgh went 2-for-3 on the man advantage. It was the 1st time Pittsburgh scored two power play goals in a game since October 18th against the Ottawa Senators.
Cory Stillman (3) and Bryan McCabe (2) scored for Florida. Tomas Vokoun (8-7-0) made 23 saves in the loss.
Pittsburgh improved to 12-8-2 on the season. The Penguins wrap up their two game road trip Wednesday night againat the Buffalo Sabres.
Post-Game Thoughts & Observations
*Chris Conner’s game winning goal was a redemption goal for Conner’s linemate Mark Letestu who set up Conner for the goal, beating McCabe wide and making a nice feed to Conner in front.
Letestu’s primary assist was just his 3rd point in his last 15 games after collecting 7 points including 4 goals in his first 7 games of the game.
Letestu’s play has dropped somewhat of late and while some believe he’s under pressure to keep his spot in the lineup once Jordan Staal returns and not to mention prospect Dustin Jeffrey looking more and more NHL ready, head coach Dan Bylsma is a strong supporter of Letestu. Keep that in mind.
*The Penguins are on their father-son’s trip and that means everyone gets into the lineup during the trip. Ben Lovejoy (14:21 TOI, -1) as expected got back into the lineup tonight but Eric Godard made a surprise appearance.
Mike Rupp was a healthy scratch upfront along with Mike Comrie.
Godard skated for 7 shifts and had 5:21 of ice time. Godard made a bad icing call near the end of a shift, which forced head coach Dan Bylsma to take his only timeout early in the second period as Florida had momentum and the opportunity to put out fresh bodies against the Penguins fourth line.
*Mike Comrie’s role with the team continues to be that of an afterthought. Comrie was scratched for the 6th time in 7 games. He is expected to play Wednesday night but only because his dad is on the trip.
*Zybnek Michalek (21:16 TOI, Assist) remains up and down in the defensive zone but Michalek is showing to be very under-rated on the breakout, which was something that also caught the eye of Penguins scouts last season when he was being targeted as a potential free agent target.
Michalek has a good first outlet pass and set up Conner’s game winning goal with a beautiful breakout pass to Letestu.
*Max Talbot who was elevated to 2nd line center, most notably to alleviate Evgeni Malkin on draws and was a woeful 1-for-11 in the face-off circle. Other than Sidney Crosby (13W-9L), the Penguins struggled in the face-off circle as Craig Adams was 2-for-9, Mark Letestu 4-for-9 and Malkin 0-for-2.
*Brooks Orpik led the Penguins with 23:18 of ice time and 6 block shots
*Pittsburgh has won 9 of their last 13 games against Florida, including 4 of their last 5.
*After recording 14 shots in the first period, the Penguins were limited to 12 shots combined in the final two periods. Florida outshot Pittsburgh 29-26 in the game.
Penguins Scoring Summary
Goal: 4:07 Kris Letang (4) (Power Play)
Assists: Paul Martin, Sidney Crosby
Goal: 11:07 Sidney Crosby (15) (Power Play)
Assists: Tyler Kennedy, Evgeni Malkin
Goal: 12:56 Chris Conner (1)
Assists: Mark Letestu, Zbynek Michalek
1. Sidney Crosby: Goals: 1, Assists: 1
2. Chris Conner: Goals: 1, Assists: 0
3. Corey Stillman: Goals: 1, Assists: 0