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Up next: Nathan Horton, Stephen Weiss and the Florida Panthers

[SBN Panthers Blog - Litterbox Cats]

Record: 16-18-7 (13th in the East)

Top Scorers: Nathan Horton (14g, 25a), Stephen Weiss (18g, 20a), Steven Reinprecht (12g, 17a)

Let's just start this off by saying the Penguins need a win.  OK, maybe they don't really need a win, but they need a win.  You follow?  Three in a row is not exactly ideal for the Pens, and I stress "for the Pens" because a few teams in the league would welcome a four-game losing streak over some of their own that have extended even beyond that.  For the Pens, not so much.  So yes, they need a win.

Today brings us the Florida Panthers in the fourth of four games this season.  Hopefully the Pens got their little bit of afternoon jitters out yesterday against the Lightning, rested up afterward and come prepared to face the Cats in Sunrise today. 

I guess the fun part about this season series is strictly based in the numbers.  While it's never entirely fun to see the Pens try and hold on to a lead, it's even more frustrating and stressful to see them try and steal one.  They've done that in all three meetings against the Panthers this season, and in a patterned fashion no less. 

On October 23 it was a 3-2 shootout win. 

On November 23 it was a 3-2 overtime win.

And on December 12, another 3-2 overtime win.

It would be somewhat laughable if the Pens win today's game by the score 3-2, but frankly I really just want to see more than one goal separating them from the Panthers.  It feels like it's been forever since the Pens really skated out there and dominated any team (not really, December 23 against the Senators, but you get the point). 

Maybe this is the team to do it against.  The Panthers, similar to the Penguins, are currently in the grips of their own little losing streak, one of which the Pens will hopefully extend to four after today's festivities.  Today's game will be their first of 2010 and surely they'll look to do what the Pens wanted to do and kick off the new year on the right skate. 

Tomas Vokoun has started in all three games so far against the Pens and I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if they go with him again.  However, after winning four in a row he's dropped his last two, so there's a slim chance we'll see former Devil Scott Clemmensen get the nod.  But if I were a betting man, I'd say Vokoun.

Fleury again for Pittsburgh?  Who knows?  We'll find out more of that as we edge closer to game time, but as of right now there's a chance Johnson may get the start in the second of two down in Florida. 

It'd be nice to see the Pens close out this mini Florida road trip with at least one win.  Hopefully that's today against the Panthers.

Puck and thread drop at 5:00.  Again, 5:00.