Thank you, Jordan Staal. And thank you, Zbynek Michalek. Staal had 3 assists and Michalek scored the game-winner as the Pittsburgh Penguins overcame a one-goal deficit to beat the Florida Panthers 4-2 and reach the once-sacred 100-point plateau.
Brent Johnson gave Marc-Andre Fleury a well-deserved rest in goal and stopped 28 shots, including a couple of huge saves after the Pens took a third-period lead. But it was Staal’s offensive effort that earned him the game’s #1 star. He set up Tyler Kennedy’s first-period goal (and 20th of the season) that gave the Pens an early 1-0 lead, and he set up Craig Adams empty-netter that sealed the game.
But it was his work along the boards and a sweet drop pass to Paul Martin that led to Michalek’s goal, a laser from the right point with 7:11 remaining. It was Michalek’s 4th goal of the season – and 4th in his past 12 games. The Pens have won all four of those games.
This was a big win for Pittsburgh, not only because it ended their two-game losing streak but because Tampa beat Minnesota earlier Saturday. The Pens maintained a 3-point lead on the Lightning for the 4 seed (home ice). Tampa has four games remaining; the Pens have three. Pittsburgh trails first-place Philadelphia by 2 points.