Panthers snap Penguins' home winning streak 5-1
- Article by: WILL GRAVES
- Associated Press
- January 20, 2014 - 9:05 PM
PITTSBURGH — Drew Shore scored twice for the first multi-goal game of his career and the Florida Panthers ended Pittsburgh's club-record 13-game home winning streak with a 5-1 win on Monday night.
Jonathan Huberdeau, Dmitry Kulikov and Shawn Matthias also scored for the Panthers, who beat Pittsburgh for the second time in three meetings this season.
Scott Clemmensen stopped 35 shots in his first start in three weeks as Florida ended a two-game losing streak.
Matt Niskanen scored the only goal for the Penguins as Pittsburgh lost at home for the first time since Nov. 13. Marc-Andre Fleury made 23 saves but lost for only the fourth time in his past 37 starts at Consol Energy Center.
Pittsburgh defenseman Paul Martin played 20 minutes in his return from a broken leg, clearing the way for him to play for Team USA in the Olympics. Forwards James Neal, Chuck Kobasew and Jason Megna also returned from injuries as the Penguins — already with a comfortable 13-point cushion in the Metropolitan Division — continue to get healthy with the Olympic break looming.
The injury problems haven't stopped Pittsburgh from leading the Eastern Conference. The same can't be said for the Panthers, who are slogging near the bottom of the Atlantic Division.
For a night at least, Florida was able to turn the tables behind Clemmensen, a resurgent penalty kill that has gone a franchise-record 10 games without allowing a goal and some unlikely offensive contributions.
The Penguins haven't just been unbeatable at home over the past two months, they've been dominant in the process. Pittsburgh entered the night having trailed in barely 12 percent of the time since the winning streak began.
A significant chunk came in last week's 4-3 comeback victory over Washington, a game in which the Penguins rallied from a goal down three times.
A scheduling quirk gave Pittsburgh nearly a week off, and while the downtime gave the Penguins a needed breather, they didn't exactly look fresh.
A rare breakdown by the league's top power-play unit gave Shore the chance to stake Florida to an early lead.
Clemmensen stopped Evgeni Malkin's shot, then passed to Shore to spark a two-on-one that ended with Shore flicking a wrist shot over Fleury's shoulder 15:46 into the first period.
The Panthers had three opportunities in the second to double their lead only to let three straight power plays go to waste before Shore struck again.
Huberdeau stripped a Penguin behind the Pittsburgh net, slid the puck to Jesse Winchester, who found a streaking Shore down the slot. The wrist shot caromed off Fleury's shoulder and into the net to make it 2-0 at 13:34 of the second.
The score capped a 20-minute stretch where Shore increased his career goal total by 50 percent. The 22-year-old came in with four goals in 54 games, including just one this season.
Kulikov pushed the Florida lead to 3-0 by taking a long bounce off the end boards then beating Fleury just 1:17 into the third.
Niskanen's seventh goal of the season 5:11 into the period briefly gave the Penguins some energy, but it faded when Huberdeau and Matthias scored 12 seconds apart to send the Panthers to the upset.
NOTES: Pittsburgh went 0 for 3 on the power play. ... The Panthers have killed 31 straight penalties. ... Florida is 10-0-1 when leading after two periods. ... Pittsburgh hosts Montreal on Wednesday. ... The Panthers play at Buffalo on Tuesday.
© 2014 Star Tribune