SUNRISE, Fla — A better showing but the same result. The Pittsburgh Penguins (11-12-3) lost their fourth straight and second straight in regulation. They’ve scored just three goals in the last three games, including an overtime loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Monday.
The Florida Panthers were the latest to beat the Penguins, handing them a 3-1 loss at Amerant Bank Arena Friday.
The Penguins immediately showed more engagement and interest in their game against the Panthers than they did in their previous Sunshine State game against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Wednesday.
Ordinarily, first-period shot totals are little more than a footnote to be ignored, but Friday, the Penguins outshot Florida 11-7, and that was an accurate reflection of the increased energy. The scoring chances, according to NaturalStatTrick.com, were nearly even, as the Penguins had a 9-8 advantage.
However, the first goal of the game didn’t occur for nearly 30 minutes. Reilly Smith both broke the ice and thawed his own cold streak. Penguins center Evgeni Malkin won the puck on the right-wing wall and spun a pass for the rushing Smith (7), who beat Florida goalie Sergei Bobrovsky with the backhand deke.
It was Smith’s first goal light since scoring two on Nov. 4 in the Penguins’ 10-2 route against the San Jose Sharks.
The pace picked up in the second period as both teams had high-quality scoring chances. Florida also converted at the net front moments after a penalty to Marcus Pettersson expired. Defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson (7) was the extra stick at the net and lunged to poke a rebound across the goal line.
Penguins netminder Tristan Jarry was especially sharp, as was Bobrovsky. The goalies traded difficult saves in the period.
The Penguins also failed to convert on three power plays, including a power play with under three minutes remaining, extending their futility to 37 consecutive fails.
Jarry stopped 32 of 34. Bobrosky made 26 of 27 saves.
Sidney Crosby led the Penguins with five shots on goal. Florida’s Anton Lundell also had five shots, including a first-period breakaway.
Before the game, the Penguins called up three players from the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, including 27-year-old journeyman Marc Johnstone, who made his NHL debut. Valtteri Puustinen and Jonathan Gruden were also recalled and inserted in the lineup.
Sasha Barkov scored the empty netter for Florida.
Puustinen had one shot (on the power play) and two hits. Johnstone had one attempted shot and two hits. Gruden, who centered the fourth line, had one shot attempt in under six minutes of ice time.