Panthers forward Nathan Horton and Penguins forward Sidney Crosby skate up the ice in their game at the BankAtlantic Center. Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images
By Dave Joseph for floridapanthers.com
All of the things that have plagued the Panthers this season – a lack of consistency, too many penalties, not enough scoring and a reluctance to go to the net – once again came back Tuesday evening to haunt them.
And one must wonder when it will end?
Just 12 day after being two games over .500, the Panthers lost for the fifth time in six games and fell seven points behind Southeast Division-leading Carolina as they lost 3-1 to Pittsburgh at BankAtlantic Center.
The Panthers, who have scored only seven goals their past six games and have been shutout twice, watched the Penguins score three unanswered goals within 3:06 of the second period.
The Panthers? They had four shots the entire second period.
“We had 11 shots the first 40 minutes,” said a dejected Olli Jokinen. “My math, that’s one shot about every 3 1/2 minutes. It’s tough to win the game when you don’t have the puck.”
When asked what the solution is, Jokinen said; “Score, fight, hit, something…anything. Do something.”
“We had 11 shots the first 40 minutes. My math, that’s one shot about every 3 1/2 minutes. It’s tough to win the game when you don’t have the puck.”
-captain Olli Jokinen
Stat of the Game
Gregory Campbell scored the only goal of the game for the Cats. It was a short-handed tally, the first of the season for Florida. The Panthers were the last team in the league to score with a man-down.
Presented by Szrio Jewelry
1. Sidney Crosby
2. Ty Conklin
3. Evgeni Malkin
They have to score, too. Richard Zednik has two goals the past 22 games and didn’t have a shot Tuesday night. Nathan Horton had only one shot. Jozef Stumpel is struggling (he did win 13 of 16 faceoffs Tuesday) and it’s becoming quite clear they sorely miss Ville Peltonen’s work in the corners and along the boards.
“You’re definitely not going to win games if you’re not scoring goals,” Allen said. “We’ve got to find a way to get in the dirty areas, grind it out and get dirty goals.”
Incredibly, the Panthers played a decent first period and, although they took two of their six penalties in the first four minutes of the game, it was scoreless through the first 20 minutes.
But it all came crashing down in the second period, and it happened just moments after Gregory Campbell was stopped on a short-handed breakaway by Penguins’ goalie Ty Conklin.
A minute after defenseman Ruslan Salei was called for tripping – and second after Campbell was stopped - Sidney Crosby slid a pass to Petr Sykora skating through the slot at 10:05 and Sykora beat goalie Tomas Vokoun through a tiny opening between his glove and the goal post.
Just 1:16, Crosby skated through the neutral zone, split defensemen Jay Bouwmeester and Bryan Allen, and beat Vokoun with a wrist shot to make it 2-0. The Penguins scored goal No. 3 just 1:50 later when George Laraque banged home a rebound.
The Panthers were stunned. Vokoun was lifted after Laraque’s goal for Craig Anderson in an attempt to “try to change the momentum,” said GM and coach Jacques Martin. Although the Panthers came out stronger in the third period – and Campbell would score the team’s first short-handed goal of the season at 15:51 of the final period – the damage was done.
“We were aggressive and really sharp in the second period,” said Penguins coach Michel Therrien, who also credited his team with being disciplined.
“I thought we had a pretty good first period,” Martin said. “The chances were fairly even at first. Then in the second period we took a penalty and they got a power play goal. We had a good chance on (Campbell’s) breakaway but their goalie made the save, and then they scored right away after that.”
The Panthers now must travel to Atlanta for Thursday’s game against the Thrashers and return home for Saturday’s game against Tampa. Two division games that, with victories, bring the Panthers back to .500.
“We have to put this game behind us,” Radek Dvorak said. “We have to learn from it. We have to go to Atlanta and win.”
And score. And stay out of the box. And go to the net. And play a consistent, 60 minutes.