(PHN) — Bad ice and bad luck. The Pittsburgh Penguins (6-4-0) used a brillo pad on their skates but not enough sandpaper on the Florida Panthers (4-2-3). A bad bounce, a mistake and a turnover spotted Florida three goals while Penguins winger Zach Aston-Reese hit the post with a rebound poke towards a wide-open net and Dominik Simon clanked a defenseman’s stick with another wide-open cage. The big Penguins score just never came.
The Florida Panthers beat the Penguins 4-1 at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida Tuesday night. Florida also outhit the Penguins 31-12.
It was another tight-checking game for the Penguins. The teams combined for another subdued first period and the offensive teams combined for only 46 shots. The Penguins outshot Florida 8-5 in the first period but Florida hit a post and Penguins defenseman Kris Letang kicked a would-be goal away from the blue line.
Letang played on the left side of the Penguins top pairing Tuesday night instead of his customary right side because the Penguins put rookie defenseman John Marino on Letang’s right. The Penguins also put heavy defensemen Jack Johnson and Erik Gudbranson together on the third pairing.
Whoops. Penguins goalie Matt Murray will make a few highlight reels, but for him, it was a lowlight. Early Florida forward Noel Acciari shot the puck from near the blue line and Murray blocked the shot high into the air. However, Murray lost sight of the puck which he blocked straight up. The fluttering vulcanized rubber landed on his back and trickled into the net. Florida couldn’t believe their luck and Murray probably couldn’t believe his.
The Penguins pushed back. Just 63 seconds later, the Penguins transitioned off an Aleksander Barkov turnover. Teddy Blueger and Jake Guentzel worked a two-on-one with a give-and-go and Blueger (2) had an open net.
The Penguins made the final mistake of the second period. Brandon Tanev and Teddy Blueger mishandled Letang’s rim-around outlet pass at the Penguins blue line. Florida winger Jonathan Huberdeau quickly transitioned towards the net and Denis Malgin finished the chance with an uncontested one-timer.
Midway through the third period, Jonathan Huberdeau (4) scored the game-winner. From above the hash marks, he deflected Barkov’s blue line shot past Murray. Penguins winger Patric Hornqvist and the Penguins quickly responded. Hornqvist one-timed a tight pass from Jake Guentzel, but the Penguins failed to score the equalizer.
Florida goalie and former Columbus Blue Jackets netminder Sergei Bobrovsky is now 13-8-5 all-time against the Penguins and has started more games against the Penguins than any other team. He stopped 23 of 25 shots and Murray stopped 18 of 21 shots.
Frank Vatrano scored the empty-net goal. The Penguins have lost two in a row and scored only two goals.