Tuesday, January 21, 2014
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Panthers halt Penguins' 13-game home win streak

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[January 21, 2014]  PITTSBURGH -- The Florida Panthers have work to do if they are going to make the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Though their seven-point deficit for the eighth and final playoff berth from the Eastern Conference isn't insurmountable, the Panthers must leapfrog six teams in the standings as they are in 15th place among 16 clubs.

However, the Panthers looked like a postseason team on Monday night as forward Drew Shore scored twice for the first multi-goal game of his career to lead Florida to a 5-1 victory over the conference-leading Penguins, ending Pittsburgh's franchise-record 13-game home winning streak.

"They are one of the best teams in the league and they just keep coming out you in waves," Panthers coach Peter Horachek said of the Penguins. "I told our guys they had to play 200 feet for 60 minutes and they did. We played well from start to finish. It was one of our best efforts of the season. It's a good win for our guys."

Shore doubled his goal total for the season by scoring in each of the first two periods. He entered the game with one goal in 11 games and three goals in his two-year career.

"I've been trying to be more aggressive, trying to shot the puck more," Shore said.

Forward Jonathan Huberdeau added one goal and one assist and defenseman Dmitry Kulikov and center Shawn Matthias also scored for the Panthers, who ended an eight-game losing streak at Pittsburgh that dated to 2009. Florida snapped a two-game skid overall.

Center Jesse Winchester had three assists in his first game since suffering an upper body injury on Dec. 15 and missing 14 games.

Florida (19-23-7) had scored just eight non-shootout goals in its previous six games.

Panthers backup goaltender Scott Clemmensen made 35 saves in his first start since Dec. 29 and also assisted on Shore's first goal.

"We treated this like a playoff game," Shore said. "Pittsburgh is the best team in our conference. We wanted to prove we could stack up against them."

The Penguins' goal was scored by defenseman Matt Niskanen, who has at least one point in 12 of his last 14 games. Center Sidney Crosby's home point streak ended at 17 games a day after he was named the captain of the Canadian team for next month's Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

Pittsburgh (34-13-2), which had been 5-0-1 in its previous six games, suffered its first loss at Consol Enegy Center since falling to the Philadelphia Flyers on Nov. 13. It was also just the Penguins' sixth loss in their last 41 home games dating to Feb. 22.

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Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury gave up five goals on 28 shots.

"They beat us in every area of the game," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said. "They beat us in special teams. They beat us five-on-five. It was all indicative in the final score."

Shore opened the scoring at 15:46 of the first period with a short-handed goal, beating Fleury on a wrist shot from the right circle on a two-on-one breakout.

Shore's second goal came from point-blank rage at 13:34 of the second period. It was set up when Huberdeau won a battle for the puck behind the net from Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta and chipped it to the left side of the net to Winchester, who passed to Shore.

The Panthers increased their lead to 3-0 at 1:17 of the third period when Kulikov scored his fourth goal of the season.

The Penguins solved Clemmensen on their 28th shot when Niskanen lit the lamp with a slap shot for his seventh goal of the season at 5:11.

The Panthers put the game away, though, by scoring twice in a 12-second span -- Huberdeau with his eighth and Matthias with his fifth -- to make it 5-1 with 5:58 remaining. Huberdeau hadn't scored since Dec. 7.

NOTES: Four Penguins returned to the lineup after missing time with injuries: D Paul Martin (leg, 23 games), F Jayson Megna (lower body, 13 games), F Chuck Kobasew (lower body, six games) and F James Neal (upper body, one game). Kobasew played right wing on the first line with C Sidney Crosby and LW Chris Kunitz as coach Dan Bylsma continues to look for someone to replace LW Pascal Dupuis, who suffered a season-ending knee injury Dec. 23. ... Dupuis is scheduled to undergo surgery Feb. 12 as doctors are waiting for swelling in the knee to subside. ... The Panthers went 0-for-3 on the power play and have failed to score with the man-advantage in 33 straight opportunities in their last 10 games but ran their streak of successful penalty kills to 26 in a row as the Penguins also went 0-for-3 on the power play. ... Panthers G Tim Thomas was rested despite having allowed two goals or fewer in eight of his last 11 games because he has lost his last three starts against the Penguins and was pulled in the last two.

[ 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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