Red Hot Penguins Burn Panthers 3-1

The Pittsburgh Penguins are a team on fire.  They collected their 7th straight win on Tuesday night as they beat the Florida Panthers by a score of 3-1, completing a sweep of the cats in the home-and-home series that started Saturday in Pittsburgh.  Over the course of those 7 wins, the Penguins have oustcored their opponents 24-9.  Ty Conklin remained unbeaten as he turned aside 27 shots and narrowly missed another shutout as the Panthers scored their lone goal with just 4:10 left in the game.

There was no scoring in the first period despite some good scoring chances by both teams.  The Penguins had a 10-7 advantage in shots, but were unable to convert on 2 powerplay opportunities. 

In the second, the Penguins dominated the Panthers and put up 3-goals in just over 3-minutes to take the wind out of the Panthers sails.  The Florida Panthers had a disallowed goal at 8:23 that was kicked into the net by Stephen Weiss.  The Penguins offensive explosion came right after a tremendous save by Ty Conklin on a 2-on-0 short-handed breakaway chance by the Panthers.  At 10:05 and still on the power play, Sidney Crosby walked out from behind the goal line and passed the puck through the crease to Petr Sykora who wristed it past Tomas Vokoun for his 13th goal of the season.  Evgeni Malkin picked up the other assist.  Then, just a little over a minute later, Sidney Crosby put it in overdrive and split the Panthers defense as he drove in on net and beat Vokoun for his 18th goal of the season, and second point of the night.  Ryan Malone and Sergei Gonchar picked up the assists.  Then just under 2-minutes later, Georges Laraque picked up the easiest goal of his career as the puck deflected off the post and he was left standing in front of an open net.  Adam Hall and Jeff Taffe were credited with the assists on Laraque’s 3rd of the season.   Panthers coach Jacques Martin pulled Tomas Vokoun in favor of Craig Anderson after the Laraques goal.  The Penguins outshot the Panthers 15-4 in the 2nd and were 1-for-1 on the powerplay. 

The Panthers pressured in the 3rd period, outshooting the Penguins 17-10 despite being shorthanded three times, to include a lengthy 5-on-3 that the Penguins failed to capitalize on.  The lone Panthers goal came as they were short-handed with 4:10 left in the game off from the stick of Gregory Campbell.  The shot beat Conklin 5-hole and spoiled a second consecutive shutout for the red hot tender.  Assists went to Radek Dvorak and Ruslan Salei. 

The win gives the Penguins 50-points, just 1-point behind the Atlantic Division leading New Jersey Devils.  The Penguins travel north in the sunshine state to take on the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday night.   

In other Penguins news:  

  • According to the Penguins official website, Defenseman Mark Eaton will undergo surgery for his torn ACL on Monday.  Eaton will miss the remainder of the season as he endures 4-6 months of recovery. 
  • After recieving 507,274 votes, Sidney Crosby will start for the Eastern Conference in the NHL All Star Game, to be played on Sunday January 27th in Atlanta.  Crosby will be paried with linemates Vincent Lecavalier of the Tampa Bay Lightning (224,661 votes) and Ottawa Senators right wing Daniel Alfredsson (224,483 votes). 
  • Defenseman Ryan Lannon and Center Ryan Stone were called up by the Penguins as injury insurance for their southern road trip.  Lannon and Stone made the trip to Florida and will be with the team for the 3-game road trip that ends Saturday in Atlanta, should they be needed. 

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