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Penguins vs. Panthers Game Preview

Friday, 04.01.2011 / 9:00 PM / Features
By Michelle Crechiolo
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Penguins vs. Panthers Game Preview
Pittsburgh Penguins
Overall:
45-28-5-98
Home: 24-14-2-50
Road: 21-11-6-48

WHEN: April 6, 2011 - 7:00 pm   |   WHERE: BankAtlantic Center
WATCH:
ROOT SPORTS  |  LISTEN: Pens HD Radio, 105.9 FM
Florida Panthers
Overall:
29-37-12-70
Home: 15-16-8-38
Road:
21-11-6-48

  Pittsburgh Penguins at Florida Panthers 
 
      
David Booth
LW -  #10
  22 Goals
  17 Assists
  39 Points
• Ranks 10th in the league with 268 shots on goal, firing 14 pucks to the net on Nov. 18, 2010 – becoming the third player in the past six seasons to take that many shots in a single game.

• Leads the team with 22 goals and 126 hits, tallying a game-high seven checks on March 27 vs. Pittsburgh.

• Played just 28 games last season after suffering concussions on two different occasions – Booth had established career highs the previous season with 31 goals, 29 assists and 60 points.
 
Jack Skille
RW  -  #15
  7 Goals
  11 Assists
  18 Points
• Acquired from Chicago on Feb. 10 with Hugh Jessiman and David Pacan in exchange for Michael Frolik and the rights to goaltender Alexander Salak.

• Was actually drafted No. 7 overall in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft by current Panthers GM Dale Tallon, who was GM of the Blackhawks at the time.

• Has been bothered by a nagging ankle injury that’s seen him miss 16 of the last 18 games.
 
Mike Weaver
D  -  #43
  2 goals
  10 assists
  12 points
• Is one of just four Panthers to play in all 78 games thus far, leading the team with 127 blocked shots.

• Is averaging 20:49 minutes (the second-best total on the team) playing alongside Jason Garrison on the Panthers’ top D pairing.

• In his first season with Florida after signing a free-agent contract with the Panthers last August – had spent the previous two campaigns with St. Louis.
The Penguins will battle the Florida Panthers for the second time in six days when Pittsburgh heads to BankAtlantic Center on Saturday. The Panthers are looking to break their seven-game winless streak that’s seen them go 0-4-3 over that span.

The Panthers are fighting to resurrect themselves from the bottom of the standings, as they currently sit in last place in the Eastern Conference with 70 points. They’ve been adjusting to a completely revamped roster over the last few weeks, as general manager Dale Tallon pulled the trigger on a whopping eight trades in the month of February, revamping the entire Panthers lineup.

Defensemen Dennis Wideman, Bryan Allen and captain Bryan McCabe and forwards Cory Stillman and Radek Dvorak were all traded. In return, the Panthers acquired Sergei Samsonov, Niclas Bergfors, Jack Skille and four draft picks in an attempt to start things over. The Panthers now have 10 picks in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, with seven of those coming in the first round. The deals also freed up cap space that will allow Tallon to be plenty aggressive in this year’s offseason.

But while the Panthers have been officially eliminated from the playoffs for a league record 10th-straight season, they’ve been battling hard every time they take the ice. Five of their last seven contests were decided by one goal and Florida leads the league with 48 games decided by that margin, including 30 of their last 37.

Florida did suffer a blow when starting goaltender Tomas Vokoun injured his back at the end of regulation during the Penguins-Panthers game on March 27. Vokoun had to leave the game before the overtime period began and has missed the two games since. Scott Clemmensen, who recently recovered from a knee injury, has taken over between the pipes. With the loss on Thursday to the Senators, Clemmensen has now dropped his last four decisions – but the game against Ottawa was his first regulation defeat in that span and he is 8-8-7 on the season.
  • This is the fourth and final meeting between the Penguins and the Panthers, with their last battle coming just six days earlier on March 27 at CONSOL Energy Center. Pittsburgh has won each of the first three meetings. The Penguins defeated the Panthers, 3-2, on Nov. 22. Sidney Crosby notched a goal and an assist while Chris Conner scored the game-winner late in regulation. The Penguins added a 5-2 victory at CONSOL Energy Center Dec. 22 and a 2-1 shootout victory on March 27. Ben Lovejoy and Sidney Crosby each have a pair of goals against Florida to lead the Penguins.
  • Against Florida on March 27, goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury established a team record by posting a shutout sequence that lasted 150:14 from the 15:18 mark of the first period at Philadelphia March 24 (scored by Mike Richards) to the 15:32 mark of the second period vs. Florida March 27 (Ryan Carter).
  • The Penguins enter Saturday’s game having won six of their last seven games against the Panthers. Pittsburgh’s 3-0 record this season against Florida ensures the Penguins will finish with a winning record against the Panthers for the third time in the last four seasons (11-4 overall). Pittsburgh is 12-6 this season against the Southeast Division.
  • Pittsburgh currently holds a 98-95 point advantage over the Tampa Bay Lightning in the race for the No. 4 seed and home-ice advantage in a potential playoff series between the teams. The Lightning have one game in hand. Saturday’s game is the Penguins’ first of four against non-playoff teams to close out the regular season.
  • Pittsburgh’s magic number to clinch home-ice advantage remains at eight. Tampa Bay is the only Eastern Conference team that can surpass Pittsburgh. The Penguins have assured themselves no worse than the fifth seed.

 

      
First Period: Tampa Bay jumped to an early 2-0 lead after the first period on Thursday, and although the Penguins put forth a frenzied rally in the final 40 minutes – outshooting the Lightning 14-6 in the second period and 17-10 in the third – Pittsburgh couldn’t recover from the two-goal deficit. The Penguins are 28-7-3 when scoring first, 21-4-2 when leading after one period and 29-3-1 when leading after two, and they have not won a game this season when trailing after the first 40 minutes. The Penguins will need to come out quick and hard from the drop of the puck in hopes of getting an early lead to take into the first intermission.

Faceoffs: The Panthers have the fifth-best team faceoff percentage in the National Hockey League and rank second in the Eastern Conference with their 51.8-percent success rate. They also have two centers in the league’s top 25 faceoff leaders in Stephen Weiss and Marty Reasoner. The Penguins will need to outbattle the Panthers off the draw on both ends of the ice in order to control play and establish momentum.
F Sidney Crosby, concussion (IR)
F Dustin Jeffrey, knee (indefinitely)

F Nick Johnson, concussion (IR)

F Evgeni Malkin torn ACL and torn MCL (will miss remainder of season)


F Eric Tangradi, concussion (IR)
RW Byron Bitz, sports hernia (out for the season)
RW Rostislav Olesz, knee (out for the season)
D Alexander Sulzer, groin (indefinitely)
C Scott Timmins, concussion (indefinitely)
G Tomas Vokoun, back (day-to-day)
C Stephen Weiss, undisclosed (day-to-day)
 
 
 
 
G
Crosby (32) Booth (22)
A
Letang (41) Weiss (28)
PTS
Crosby (66) Weiss (49)
PIM
Cooke (129) Konopka (181)
+/-
Crosby (+20) Reasoner/Higgins (+5)
PP
Crosby (10) Booth (7)
SH
Dupuis/Cooke (3)
Weiss (2)
W/L
Fleury (34-20-5)
Clemmensen (8-8-7)
GAA
Fleury (2.32) Clemmensen (2.49)
SVP
Fleury (.918) Clemmensen (.915)

Alex Kovalev - Kovalev notched the only assist on Mike Rupp’s third-period tally on Thursday against Tampa Bay to give the right wing a three-game point streak. Kovalev has tallied a goal and two helpers over that span. He also scored the game-deciding shootout goal the last time the Penguins and Panthers faced off on March 27 and has converted three of his last five shootout attempts. Kovalev now has 16 goals on the season, good for fourth on the team (and third among active Penguins).
 
Sergei Samsonov - Samsonov has eight points (2G-6A) in his last nine contests, including a three-game point streak that spanned from March 15-19. Samsonov, 32, has 11 points (3G-8A) in 16 games played in a Panthers uniform since being acquired from Atlanta on Feb. 28. The 5-foot-8, 188-pound left wing has been thriving on a line with center Stephen Weiss and right wing Niclas Bergfors. The trio has combined for a total of 27 points over their last 14 games played together.
 
 
 
 

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WHEN: April 6, 2011 - 7:00 pm
WHERE: BankAtlantic Center
WATCH: ROOT SPORTS
LISTEN: Pens HD Radio, 105.9 FM



SCOUTING REPORT

The Penguins will battle the Florida Panthers for the second time in six days when Pittsburgh heads to BankAtlantic Center on Saturday. The Panthers are looking to break their seven-game winless streak that's seen them go 0-4-3 over that span.

The Panthers are fighting to resurrect themselves from the bottom of the standings, as they currently sit in last place in the Eastern Conference with 70 points. They've been adjusting to a completely revamped roster over the last few weeks, as general manager Dale Tallon pulled the trigger on a whopping eight trades in the month of February, revamping the entire Panthers lineup.

Defensemen Dennis Wideman, Bryan Allen and captain Bryan McCabe and forwards Cory Stillman and Radek Dvorak were all traded. In return, the Panthers acquired Sergei Samsonov, Niclas Bergfors, Jack Skille and four draft picks in an attempt to start things over. The Panthers now have 10 picks in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, with seven of those coming in the first round. The deals also freed up cap space that will allow Tallon to be plenty aggressive in this year's offseason.

But while the Panthers have been officially eliminated from the playoffs for a league record 10th-straight season, they've been battling hard every time they take the ice. Five of their last seven contests were decided by one goal and Florida leads the league with 48 games decided by that margin, including 30 of their last 37. The line of Samsonov, Stephen Weiss and Bergfors has been heating up since head coach Peter DeBoer placed them together following the trade deadline, as they have 27 points in 14 games played together, with 26 of the 27 being scored in the trio's previous 12 games.

Florida did suffer a blow when starting goaltender Tomas Vokoun injured his back at the end of regulation during the Penguins-Panthers game on March 27. Vokoun had to leave the game before the overtime period began and has missed the two games since. Scott Clemmensen, who recently recovered from a knee injury, has taken over between the pipes. With the loss on Thursday to the Senators, Clemmensen has now dropped his last four decisions – but the game against Ottawa was his first regulation defeat in that span and he is 8-8-7 on the season.


INTERESTING STATS

* This is the fourth and final meeting between the Penguins and the Panthers, with their last battle coming just six days earlier on March 27 at CONSOL Energy Center. Pittsburgh has won each of the first three meetings. The Penguins defeated the Panthers, 3-2, on Nov. 22. Sidney Crosby notched a goal and an assist while Chris Conner scored the game-winner late in regulation. The Penguins added a 5-2 victory at CONSOL Energy Center Dec. 22 and a 2-1 shootout victory on March 27. Ben Lovejoy and Sidney Crosby each have a pair of goals against Florida to lead the Penguins.

* Against Florida on March 27, goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury established a team record by posting a shutout sequence that lasted 150:14 from the 15:18 mark of the first period at Philadelphia March 24 (scored by Mike Richards) to the 15:32 mark of the second period vs. Florida March 27 (Ryan Carter).

* Pittsburgh established a NHL record when it won four-straight games via the shootout March 21-27. The Penguins now have nine shootout wins for the season, tied for the NHL lead, and the second-highest single-season total in team history (10, 2006-07). Pittsburgh has now won five consecutive shootouts and six of its past seven.

* The Penguins enter Saturday's game having won six of their last seven games against the Panthers. Pittsburgh's 3-0 record this season against Florida ensures the Penguins will finish with a winning record against the Panthers for the third time in the last four seasons (11-4 overall). Pittsburgh is 12-6 this season against the Southeast Division.

* Pittsburgh currently holds a 98-95 point advantage over the Tampa Bay Lightning in the race for the No. 4 seed and home-ice advantage in a potential playoff series between the teams. The Lightning have one game in hand. Saturday's game is the Penguins' first of four against non-playoff teams to close out the regular season.

* Pittsburgh's magic number to clinch home-ice advantage remains at eight. Tampa Bay is the only Eastern Conference team that can surpass Pittsburgh. The Penguins have assured themselves no worse than the fifth seed.


KEYS TO THE GAME

Test Koskinen: Mikko Koskinen will be making just his third-ever NHL start against Pittsburgh on Friday and is riding high after a 37-save performance against the Canadiens on Thursday. The Penguins will need to throw shot after shot at Koskinen, testing the 22-year-old goaltender early, often and hard in his first-ever set of back-to-back contests.

Take Short Shifts: Friday marks the Penguins' second tilt in as many days and will be their fourth game in six days. A stretch like that, especially with the influx of injuries to Pittsburgh's skaters, is bound to cause fatigue in the players. The Penguins will need to make sure they take short, hard shifts in an effort to keep their legs fresh against an Islanders squad that always plays them tough.


WHO'S HOT

Alex Kovalev - Kovalev notched the only assist on Mike Rupp's third-period tally on Thursday against Tampa Bay to give the right wing a three-game point streak. Kovalev has tallied a goal and two helpers over that span. He also scored the game-deciding shootout goal the last time the Penguins and Panthers faced off on March 27 and has converted three of his last five shootout attempts. Kovalev now has 16 goals on the season, good for fourth on the team (and third among active Penguins).

Sergei Samsonov - Samsonov has eight points (2G-6A) in his last nine contests, including a three-game point streak that spanned from March 15-19. Samsonov, 32, has 11 points (3G-8A) in 16 games played in a Panthers uniform since being acquired from Atlanta on Feb. 28. The 5-foot-8, 188-pound left wing has been thriving on a line with center Stephen Weiss and right wing Niclas Bergfors. The trio has combined for a total of 27 points over their last 14 games played together.


Author: Michelle Crechiolo
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