Streaks end in win over Florida

One win can’t solve all problems.

Penguins 3 — Panthers 2 FOT

But the Penguins sure tried to Saturday night, putting an end to multiple streaks they’d prefer not to be associated with.

Carrying a struggling power play and a few struggling scorers in to the contest, Pittsburgh saw Ruslan Fedotenko and Evgeni Malkin each score to end personal droughts in a 3-2 win against Florida. Malkin’s came on the power play in overtime — a power play ranked 29th in the league entering the game.

“I hope it’s what we needed,” said coach Dan Bylsma of the power play goal. “We have had some good power plays (lately) and not scored.

“Sometimes the only thing we hadn’t done was score the goal. Tonight I think you saw us squeezing our sticks a little bit out there on the power play and sometimes you need a goal to release that. We were pretty happy to see that slap shot go in.”

Malkin’s goal was his first in five games and Fedotenko’s was his first in 13. The power play hadn’t scored a goal since Dec. 3 against Colorado.

Since that game the unit was 0-for-14. That is, until Malkin sent a slapper behind Florida goaltender Thomas Vokoun.

“I know how tough (it is) to not score (for) five, six games,” Malkin said. The goalless streak was his second five-game drought of the season. “But I stay focused and not notice and (I) get it tonight.

“We stayed focused. We know if we score (in) overtime it’s two points, it’s good for team.”

Fedotenko had scored just four goals all season as a second-line winger going in to Saturday night. He came out of the game with a much needed score for his team and for his confidence.

After scoring, Fedotenko lifted his arms with what seemed like a sense of relief.

“(I’m) just trying to get back to the basics, what makes me successful — play physical, skate in your face, go hard to the net and shoot the puck when you have a chance,” Fedotenko said after the game. “I felt like last game (I had) a lot of chances…but didn’t score.”

Personal streaks ended for Chris Kunitz and Brent Johnson as well as they returned to the ice for the first time in weeks. Kunitz hadn’t played since Nov. 12 due to injury and Johnson had sat out since Nov. 27 backing up Marc-Andre Fleury.

Kunitz logged just over 14 minutes of ice time and Johnson stopped 29 of 31 shots. After missing a poke check that led to a Florida goal by Stephen Weiss, Johnson regrouped to make a game-saving stop on a breakaway attempt by Jeff Taffe.

“I felt comfortable,” Johnson said. “It’s always nice to get a couple shots early because if you haven’t played in a while it helps the cause. (Florida) didn’t have much in the second period because our guys worked so damn hard.”

Weiss’ goal tied the game 2-2 just five minutes in to the third period. Steve Reinprecht scored for Florida to open the scoring in the first and Pascal Dupuis netted his ninth of the year — and second in as many games — to tie the game at one going in to the second.

Fedotenko’s goal was the lone mark of the second period, which was followed by Malkin’s overtime winner.

“The Fedotenko goal was great for him — going to the net, standing at the top of the crease there and getting that goal,” Bylsma said.

“Geno gets eight shots (Thursday at Montreal) and doesn’t get a goal and tonight gets a big goal for us and a game-winner in overtime. (It’s) hopefully a springboard for him.”

Notes:

  • Kunitz returned to the lineup for the first time in a month Saturday, and he said he felt just about right for returning from a month away from game situations. “There’s spurts of everything — obviously the energy and adrenaline that you bring when you first get back out there,” Kunitz said. “You can’t mimick playin’ in the games, no matter how many practices you have. It’s one of those things you try to build on every time you on the ice to try to get a little more confidence, a little more chemistry.”
  • Bylsma on Johnson’s performance in net: “I thought he played a very good game. Throughout the game (he) made several big saves, was solid with his glove. A couple shots from the wing that could’ve been dangerous he controlled the rebound on. He deserved to get a win tonight the way he played.”

Chris | PPT

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