Pittsburgh Penguins Get One Point Against Florida Panthers


The Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Florida Panthers in both of their previous two contests.  In their final matchup of the 2015-16 season, the Pens were looking for the sweep.

The game got off to an inauspicious start, with the Panthers’ Nick Bjugstad putting Florida on the board first.  The 23 year-old pivot notched his tenth goal of the season on a wrist shot, with assists from Alex Petrovic and Brian Campbell.  Marc-Andre Fleury didn’t have much of a chance on the play.

The Pens certainly had some chances of their own in the first period, but they couldn’t seem to put the puck in the net, and at certain points couldn’t find the net itself.  The intensity was there.  Crosby was his usual self, playing the game smartly, but aggressively.

Towards the end of the period Matt Cullen put the puck over the glass and earned a delay of game penatly, which the Pens were able to kill off adroitly.  That upped Cullen’s total penalty minutes to 18 on the season.  The Hagelin-Cullen-Kessel line as a group were trapped in their own end more than we would have liked to see during the first period, needing to step it up heading into the second.

The Pens only had nine shots in the first.   They need to get more attempts on net than that, to put themselves in a position to win.  The Panthers only had seven shots on net, but unfortunately, one those shots wound up in the Pittsburgh net.  In the previous two games against the Panthers, both overtime wins for the Pens, Pittsburgh had 35 shots on goal in each game.

Facing the Panthers’ backup netminder in Al Montoya, and considering how hot the Pens have been of late (the Rangers game not withstanding) I would have thought they’d be leading by midway through the game.  That wasn’t the case tonight however.  

To the Pens credit, they cranked up their shot total in the second period.  It didn’t give us the result we wanted though.  Twenty-one total shots through two for Pittsburgh, with just thirteen for Florida.  Not the most elegant game for either team.

Kris Letang was out for a 1:47 shift early in the third period after which he took a holding penalty against Logan Shaw.  It didn’t stop the Pens from making an offensive charge.  Carl Hagelin got the puck alone on net shorthanded and looking to go between Montoya’s legs, was stopped cold.

The Panthers got chances of their own on their powerplay and Fleury did a good job keeping the Pens deficit to one goal.  He made a beauty of a save against Jussi Jokinen midway through the third.

Letang would get a second penalty later in the third period for delay of game, putting the puck out of play.   The puck wasn’t put out of play intentionally, didn’t seem to be anyway.  That call didn’t seem to be in the spirit of the reason the penalty was created.  He wasn’t trying to stop the clock.  Luckily, there was no damage done as the Pens killed off the penalty.

It was time for the Pens to do what they do.  Keep pushing and put the puck in the net.  They’ve continually kept at it and tied games up late this year. Sure enough, Chris Kunitz had a ton of room, and put a wrister past Montoya to tie the game, 1-1, with just about three minutes left in the game.  Kunitz got his 11th goal on the season, while Sidney Crosby picked up his 30th assist.  That would be it for regulation, and it was on to OT.

Phil Kessel had a strong chance right in the slot during OT, but was stoned by Montoya, who was really having a good game.  Bryan Rust had a couple of shots himself, but received the same treatment that Kessel got.  The 3-on-3 over five minutes wouldn’t yield any further goals, and the teams would line up for the game deciding shootout. 

Fleury, carrying the third-highest winning percentage among current goaltenders in shootouts was in a good position.  Or so it seemed.  Crosby got the scoring underway in the shootout, but the Panthers would come back with two quick goals of their own as Nick Bjugstad and Jussi Jokinen both put the puck past Fleury, to clinch it for Florida.  You have to hand it to Fleury though, in that he made some great saves during the game.  It wasn’t to be for he and the Pens this time though, as Florida picked up the extra point.