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Cat Scratched Fever: Penguins Lose 6-5 to Panthers



Sidney Crosby. Photo Credit: Sarah A.

Evgenii Dadonov had a hat trick and Florida Panthers ended the Pittsburgh Penguins six-game win streak, Saturday, 6-5 at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, FL.

A few minutes into the first period, Upper St. Clair native, Vincent Trochek opened the scoring. Denis Malgin worked in transition for a two-on-one break. Malgin laid it on Trochek’s tape and it was quickly 1-0.

Midway through the first period, Carl Hagelin continued his torrid pace. Hagelin crashed the net and gained inside position on Florida defenseman Aaron Ekblad. Evgeni Malkin made a tape-to-tape pass and Hagelin steered it past Panthers goalie Roberto Luongo.

Penguins goaltender Tristan Jarry was strong early. He made several huge saves in the first period including one with the right pad against a wide-open Nick Bugjstad. 

However, Dadonov (16) scored with 38 seconds remaining in the first period and the Panthers led 2-1.

Florida dominated the early stages of the second period and extended their lead to three goals. Jamie McGinn banked in a shot-pass from Jared McCann and Derek MacKenzie buried a rebound from the pad of Jarry. 4-1.

Matt Murray relieved Jarry and immediately made two crucial saves on chances from the slot before Evgeni Malkin scored later in the second period. Malkin (35) skated the length of the ice and perfectly executed a give-and-go with Bryan Rust along the right wing wall.

The Penguins appeared to score in the final two minutes of the second period. Patric Hornqvist pushed a rebound across the goal line. After video review, it was determined Hornqvist pushed the pad of Luongo past the line. No goal.

The Evgeni(i)’s each tallied their second goal of the game early in the third period. Malkin’s second goal was a tight angle wrist shot just above the Panthers goal line. Rust and Hagelin created a turnover deep in the Panthers zone and Malkin (36) stepped toward the right wing circle before he surprised Luongo with a nasty wrister.

“We played great in the third period,” said Malkin. “We needed to play better in the first period and second period.”

Dadonov was left along in front of the Penguins goal, as defensemen Matt Hunwick and Jamie Oleksiak both converged on Panthers center Alexander Barkov. Barkov slipped the pass between the Penguins blue liners to Dadonov (17) who easily beat a helpless Murray.

Bjugstad and Oleksiak dropped the gloves later in the third period. Bjugstad was given a roughing penalty prior to the fight, which became the Penguins only power play of the game.

On the player play, with five minutes remaining in the game, Hornqvist crashed the net. Phil Kessel shuffled the puck to the crease and Hornqvist (17) cleanly put it in this time.

49 seconds later, Rust tied the game.

Dadonov (18) finished off the Penguins comeback attempt, his third of the game came with 1:53 remaining.

Jake’s Analysis and Notes:

-Penguins didn’t play a very clean game. The first 30 minutes of play featured a ton of center-ice turnovers along with very sloppy passes. The sloppiness created an inability to sustain pressure in the offensive zone.

-Florida is a good team. The top six is really tough. Look out for them if they sneak into the playoffs.

-The Hunwick and Oleksiak pairing was b-r-u-t-a-l. The two didn’t seem to have much chemistry. Hunwick had a bad night. He was on the ice for four of the six Florida goals.

-The Penguins had an issue defending the rush, especially through the neutral zone. Florida’s fleet-footed wingers wreaked havoc on Pittsburgh’s defense throughout.

-Jarry has been pulled in two of his last six starts. His fourth and final goal allowed tonight was bad, but the defense did not help during the first three.

-Of course, most teams would have thrown in the towel after Dadonov’s second goal. The Penguins didn’t.

-Pittsburgh shuffled lines from the start, featuring an almost constant switch between Dominik Simon and Zach Aston-Reese on Crosby’s left wing.

-The tide turned when Malkin was reunited with Hagelin and Rust. This line gives a strong element of defensive ability. Hagelin’s forechecking ability combined with Malkin’s possession skills helps the combination be so lethal. It’s almost impossible to stop them when both are at the top of their game.

-Offensively, Guentzel and Kessel looked solid together, again. Riley Sheahan was a minus-four, however.

-General Manager Jim Rutherford wouldn’t shut down the notion of acquiring an additional defenseman. Look for the Penguins to possibly make a move for a 6th defenseman.

Be sure to tune in to Facebook Live for our Trade Deadline special on Monday beginning at 11 a.m. Dan Kingerski and Matt Gajtka will be broadcasting live from Leon’s Billiards in Wexford providing you with all of the latest on Deadline Day.

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Jake Holmes is a junior writer with Pittsburgh Hockey Now, who specializes in the technical side of the game. Follow Jake on Twitter @JakeHolmes570

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Jay Baileys

    February 25, 2018 at 2:33 pm

    Hey Jake, do you agree with your boss Dan K. that Hunwick is gonna be ok? The dude sucks, and if the Pens went all in with Brassard, they can’t possibly think he is a serviceable option at defense. I realize they won a Cup with Streit and Pouliot, but they didn’t play much. Hunwick is gonna play a regular shift from time to time. Stuff like last night happens when he does that. They need to get another D, play Ruhwedel or both, and let Hunwick watch from the press box. Maybe Dan can share some nachos with him.

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