|PIT||0||0||0||(0 - 0)||3|
|FLA||0||0||0||(0 - 0)||1|
The Pittsburgh Penguins hope to win their seventh in a row and climb into first place in the Atlantic Division when they conclude a home-and-home series with the Florida Panthers at BankAtlantic Center on Tuesday night.
Five of Pittsburgh's six victories during its run have come at home, but the Penguins will now hit the road for three games against Southeast Division opponents. They're 5-1 against such teams this season.
One of those wins came Saturday, as Pittsburgh beat the Panthers 3-0 for its second shutout victory in four games and fifth overall. The Penguins are one point behind first-place New Jersey, which hosts Buffalo on Tuesday, in the Atlantic.
Ty Conklin has been in goal for all six games during the Pens' win streak, posting a 1.31 goals-against average. He's 7-0-0 with a 2.00 GAA on the season since being called up Dec. 7 to replace the injured Marc-Andre Fleury.
"You knows he's feeling confidence in there," defenseman Ryan Whitney said. "Pucks are hitting him and there's no second shots. He's smothering rebounds and doing a great job. I think the whole team feeds off him because you can tell in practice and in games he's just in one of those grooves right now."
Saturday's win improved Conklin to 3-0-0 with a 1.67 GAA against Florida.
The Penguins scored two goals in less than seven minutes to open Saturday's game. Evgeni Malkin scored one of those, a power-play tally, giving him eight goals in as many games.
"This team's too good to give them that kind of opportunity and that kind of lead," Florida defenseman Bryan Allen said.
Sidney Crosby leads the NHL with 40 assists, and he's been the one most responsible for Malkin's scoring surge, assisting on six of Malkin's last eight goals. Crosby has an eight-game point streak, recording two goals and 12 assists in that span.
Crosby has four goals and eight assists in nine games versus the Panthers, while Malkin has two goals and three assists in five games against them.
Florida (19-20-3) has had plenty of problems scoring goals lately. Saturday's loss marked the second time in four games that it has been shut out.
The Panthers are 1-4-0 in their last five contests, totaling three goals in the four losses. They've suffered from poor starts of late, falling behind 3-0 in a 5-1 loss to Montreal on Dec. 28, 2-0 en route to a 3-2 defeat to the Devils on Wednesday and spotting the Penguins the early 2-0 lead Saturday.
"I think that's the ultimate question," Allen said. "I think we're aware of the situation of not having good starts to the games that are killing us."
Center Olli Jokinen leads the Panthers with 20 goals, but he hasn't scored in his past four games. Nathan Horton has been one of the team's few other consistent offensive producers this season, and he has a pair of two-goal efforts in his last six contests.
Jokinen hasn't scored in his last three games versus the Penguins, but he's had plenty of success against them over the years. He has two of his four career hat tricks against Pittsburgh - the most recent coming Jan. 10 - and had a seven-game goal streak against the Penguins from Nov. 6, 2002-Feb. 12, 2004.
The Panthers are 0-2-1 in their last three matchups with the Penguins, but had won 14 of the 15 prior meetings.
|Mar 06 '08||PIT 2 at FLA 5||S. Weiss|
|Feb 19 '08||FLA 2 at PIT 3||R. Malone|
|Jan 08 '08||PIT 3 at FLA 1||S. Crosby|
|Jan 05 '08||FLA 0 at PIT 3||T. Kennedy|