Penguins pay the price for penalties in 6-4 loss to Panthers
The Penguins' Sidney Crosby falls in front of Florida's Mike Weaver while trying to move the puck up the boards.
When Chris Kunitz, left, scored on a power play in the final minute of the second period to tie the score, 4-4, momentum seemed to be on the side of the Penguins. But it would be their final goal of the game. He celebrates with Sidney Crosby.
Florida's Tomas Kopecky, center, celebrates with teammates Dmitry Kulikov, left, and Erik Gudbranson (44) after Kopecky's third goal, an empty-netter against the Penguins in a 6-4 Panthers win.
Share with others:
SUNRISE, Fla. -- The point is not that the Penguins had a chance to win this game.
No one disputes that.
What matters most, they said, was that they did not deserve to.
Not even close.
Never mind that they survived giving up four power-play goals in the first 29 minutes or that they managed to crawl out of a three-goal hole by the second intermission.
Given how little they felt they had invested in the game, the Penguins seemed convinced that their 6-4 loss to the Florida Panthers Tuesday night at BB&T Center was a completely reasonable payoff.
"It's disappointing," center Sidney Crosby said. "We just got outworked. It's pretty clear.
"We did a good job of sticking with it and trying to get back in the game, but we didn't deserve that one."
It was the first time the Penguins have allowed as many as four man-advantage goals in a game since a 6-4 loss Dec. 13, 2008 in Philadelphia. It had to be particularly exasperating for them that Florida's power play had been 0 for 17 in its previous home five games, all losses.
The Penguins, meanwhile, capitalized on just one of four tries with the extra man. That was enough to extend their streak of games with a man-advantage goal to 12, but not enough to let them finish the evening with a point or two.
But it was Florida's power play, which scored on four of seven opportunities, that was the dominant force in the game, even though Tomas Fleischmann's winning goal was scored at even strength.
"You have to find a way to kill [penalties] and, right now, we're not," Penguins right winger Craig Adams said. "And it's hurting us."
The first of Florida's power-play goals came at 13:57 of the opening period, when Tomas Kopecky backhanded a Brian Campbell rebound past Penguins goalie Tomas Vokoun. That marked the first time in 11 road games this season that the Penguins had given up the first goal.
And the Florida power play was just getting started.
After James Neal pulled the Penguins even 51 seconds into the second period, beating Florida goalie Jose Theodore from along the right-wing boards for his 13th goal this season, Kopecky swept a Fleischmann rebound past Vokoun at 3:22, just three seconds after the Penguins had killed off a five-on-three disadvantage that lasted 108 seconds.
Campbell made it 3-1 at 8:23, while Tanner Glass of the Penguins was serving a high-sticking minor, and Marcel Goc converted a Kopecky feed at 8:54, with Pascal Dupuis in the penalty box, to put Florida up, 4-1.
"Most of the penalties [called against the Penguins] were penalties, and I think they probably were the result of the way we were playing," Crosby said. "We were chasing, caught behind. You have to take penalties sometimes, but we have to do a better job of staying out of the box."
Goc's goal prompted coach Dan Bylsma to replace Vokoun with Marc-Andre Fleury, and the Penguins started to rebound almost immediately.
Dustin Jeffrey sliced Florida's lead to 4-2 with his second goal this season as he beat Theodore from the top of the left circle at 9:51.
The Penguins then celebrated a successful penalty-kill by making it a 4-3 score 10 seconds after they returned to full strength, with defenseman Paul Martin scoring from the top of the right circle at 14:08.
The Penguins finally got a power-play goal of their own with 40.1 seconds to go before intermission, as a Chris Kunitz centering pass went off Panthers defenseman Mike Weaver and into the net.
"We did a good job of battling back, getting ourselves into a game that we really didn't have any business being in," Penguins defenseman Matt Niskanen said. "Then, we just gave it away in the third."
The Penguins had a chance to go in front when Fleischmann was called for tripping 79 seconds into the third, but couldn't capitalize, and Fleischmann beat Fleury on a two-on-one break 10 seconds after leaving the penalty box to put the Panthers back on top.
The Penguins threw 15 shots at Scott Clemmensen, who replaced Theodore for the third period, but couldn't get the goal that would have forced overtime.
And maybe salvaged a point or two that they probably didn't deserve.
"Obviously, we felt good going into the third period," Adams said. "It's not like we'd played well up to that point, but we'd gotten ourselves back in the game. But we continued to not play well, and it bit us."
First Published February 27, 2013 12:00 am