Pittsburgh Penguins Continue to Roll, Rout Florida 5-1


After coming up big with a victory over the St. Louis Blues yesterday, the Pittsburgh Penguins continued to find their form tonight, weathering an early storm to rout the Florida Panthers 5-1.

The win didn’t come easy at first. Florida peppered Pittsburgh with 16 shots in the first period (the Pens managed only 8) in what looked like an endless onslaught of high-paced offense.

Luckily for the Pens, their regular season MVP Marc-Andre Fleury shut the door and came up with some highlight reel saves to keep the score at 0-0.

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Patric Hornqvist broke the deadlock midway through the first period when defenseman Kris Letang burst down the right wing and dished to the Swede in front of the net, allowing him to slam home his 17th of the season.

Near the end of an equally tough second period, Evgeni Malkin added to the Pens’ total – capitalizing on a terrible Panthers turnover and whipping a quick backhand by Florida netminder Al Montoya.

Despite looking like the better team for much of the first two period, the Panthers began the third frame down 2-0 – and things quickly got worse.

Just 19 seconds into the third, Sidney Crosby found a streaking Paul Martin with a cross-ice pass. The veteran defender fired one home to give the Pens a 3-0 lead, decisively swinging the momentum in Pittsburgh’s favour.

Crosby continued to showcase his elite passing abilities a few minutes later when the Pens tallied a powerplay goal, courtesy of a Crosby-to-Hornqvist feed from behind the net.

It seemed the Pens could do no better but the team’s revamped offense continued to roll as the third period reached the midway point.

Charging into the Panthers’ zone, Malkin slipped behind a Florida defenseman and stripped the puck along the wall. It was eventually nudged free but Zach Sill pressed forward and poked it back to Malkin.

As Geno and Sill set up in prime position for a one-timer in front of Montoya, Malkin wired a tricky backhand shot that found the top of the cage – his 24th goal of the season.

While a shutout seemed on the horizon for the phenomenal Fleury, it was not to be. Late in the third, Panthers’ forward Scottie Upshall tallied Florida’s only goal off a quick faceoff play.

Regardless, the Pens can thank Fleury for their victory tonight as they surely would not have stood a chance had the one they call ‘Flower’ not shut down the Panthers’ offense early in the game.

Head coach Mike Johnston will surely be pleased with his forward lines as well as the reunion of Crosby and Hornqvist has led to much stronger play from both.

Malkin and Letang similarly look to be playing some of the finest hockey of their careers – which certainly bodes well for the approaching postseason.

Though they’ll be glad to get the two points, the Penguins’ real test will come over the next couple games when they face the Washington Capitals and Columbus Blue Jackets – two teams they’ve had very little success against this season.

Washington is up first on Feb. 25th.