|PIT||0||0||0||(0 - 0)||2|
|FLA||0||0||0||(0 - 0)||5|
|The Panthers' Rostislav Olesz celebrates after scoring against Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, right, in the first period of a hockey game as Penguins' Ryan Whitney (19) looks on in Sunrise, Fla., Thursday, March 6, 2008. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)|
SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) -Craig Anderson wasn't perfect. For a change, the Florida Panthers' goalie didn't have to be.
Anderson stopped 25 shots, David Booth had a goal and two assists and the Panthers beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-2 on Thursday night to stay within seven points of Carolina in the Southeast Division standings.
After carrying Florida to consecutive 1-0 victories and setting a slew of NHL records in the process, Anderson's bid for a third consecutive shutout ended early. But afterward, all that mattered to him was that the Panthers opened a critical seven-game homestand with a victory.
"You want your best games at the end of the year when you're getting that playoff push," Anderson said. "You want to be playing your best hockey. Look at other teams that were playing good at the start of the year. They're kind of fading off right now, but we want to continue to play strong."
Ryan Malone scored his 24th goal and Kristopher Letang got his fifth for Pittsburgh, which had beaten Florida in the teams' last five meetings. Reigning Hart Trophy winner Sidney Crosby, in his second game back since suffering a high ankle sprain and missing six weeks of action, had an assist for the Penguins.
"We just didn't come out the right way and we definitely paid for it," Crosby said. "This time of year, you can't afford to do that."
Anderson stopped 93 shots in his previous two outings at the New York Islanders and Boston Bruins, making Florida the first NHL team to win consecutive 1-0 games on the road.
| Game Highlights
Anderson Shutout Open
|Panthers vs Penguins|
Quote of the Game
|"You want to have a two-goal leading heading into the third period. You want to play with poise and confidence, just make sure we don't turn the puck over against their top line there and we did that."
-Forward Stephen Weiss
Stat of the Game
|After scoring four goals the last three games, combined, the Cats exploded for 5 goals against the Penguins. The last time they scored at least five goals was a 6-3 victory against the Bruins back on February 9th.|
Presented by Szrio Jewelry
|1. Stephen Weiss
2. David Booth
3. Craig Anderson
"We'll see," Martin said.
By the time Anderson faced his first shot against the Penguins, he already had a 2-0 lead.
Booth opened the scoring at 4:19 of the first on a picture-perfect goal, a play where Nathan Horton carried the puck down the left wing boards and tapped it to Weiss, who found Booth for his 20th. Olesz got his 12th of the season 39 seconds later.
Those quick two goals matched Florida's total in its previous 134 minutes, 20 seconds of play.
"Makes it a lot easier than being down a goal, especially against that team," Weiss said.
From there, all eyes were on Anderson - whose streak would soon end. Malone tapped in a rebound at 6:19 of the first, snapping Anderson's run of 106 consecutive saves.
"Once they scored, it was actually a big weight off my chest," Anderson said. "There was a little bit of pressure there."
The Panthers restored the two-goal lead late in the first, when Weiss scored off a rebound against Marc-Andre Fleury at 17:54. Fleury stopped 16 of 19 shots in the opening period, and was replaced by Ty Conklin to start the second.
"I tried everything in my power as a coach to try to change momentum, get the attention from players," Penguins coach Michel Therrien said.
The teams traded goals in the opening minutes of the second, with McLean getting his 11th for Florida and Letang scoring when his knuckling shot beat Anderson midway through the period.
Crosby had a great chance to get Pittsburgh within 4-3 with 5:50 left in the second, skating in alone on Anderson, but couldn't get a shot off.
"I think he was scared of my poke-check," Anderson said.
All kidding aside, the Panthers' goalie was flawless the rest of the way.
Notes: Dave Zenobi, the Florida Panthers' trainer who helped save right wing Richard Zednik's life, was honored before the game with the ADT Good Sport Award. Zednik was part of the ceremony and drew a loud ovation. ... Nine-time Olympic swimming medalist Dara Torres, a South Florida resident, dropped the ceremonial first puck.
|David Booth (20) ASST: Stephen Weiss (28), Nathan Horton (32)|
1 - 0 FLA
|Rostislav Olesz (12) ASST: Brett McLean (14), Olli Jokinen (33)|
2 - 0 FLA
|Ryan Malone (24) ASST: Hal Gill (19), Petr Sykora (30)|
2 - 1 FLA
|Stephen Weiss (11) ASST: David Booth (14), Magnus Johansson (10)|
3 - 1 FLA
|Brett McLean (11) ASST: Olli Jokinen (34), Bryan Allen (13)|
4 - 1 FLA
|Kris Letang (5) ASST: Sergei Gonchar (44), Sidney Crosby (45)|
4 - 2 FLA
|EN - Bryan Allen (2) ASST: NONE|
5 - 2 FLA
|Georges Laraque Fighting against Wade Belak|
|Wade Belak Fighting against Georges Laraque|
|Steve Montador Boarding against Jarkko Ruutu|
|Darryl Sydor Holding against Gregory Campbell|
|Nathan Horton Hooking against Evgeni Malkin|
|Magnus Johansson Hooking against Pascal Dupuis|
|Steve Montador Slashing against Georges Laraque|
|Kris Letang Tripping against David Booth|
|Magnus Johansson Holding against Evgeni Malkin|
|SA: 19||TOI: 20:00|
|Saves: 16||EV: 14 - 17|
|PIM: 0||PP: 2 - 2|
|SV%: .842||SH: 0 - 0|
|SA: 22||TOI: 39:51|
|Saves: 21||EV: 17 - 18|
|PIM: 0||PP: 1 - 1|
|SV%: .955||SH: 3 - 3|
|SA: 27||TOI: 60:00|
|Saves: 25||EV: 17 - 19|
|PIM: 0||PP: 7 - 7|
|SV%: .926||SH: 1 - 1|