The Panthers scored a late third-period goal Saturday night that helped them beat the Pens 3-2, causing Pittsburgh to come up empty on two straight games in Florida.
Once again offense was not as big an issue for the Pens as it was the other team's defense, more specifically the goaltending. Dwayne Roloson was on fire for the Lightning Thursday night and Jose Theodore was nothing short of great for the Panthers Saturday as well, stopping 39 of Pittsburgh's 41 shots en rout to his seventh win of the season.
Unfortunately the same can not be said of Brent Johnson, who fell to 1-3-2 on the season after allowing three goals on 31 shots.
Maybe you guys can help me out here - because I wanted to make a bold statement in this spot but don't know what that should be: What exactly is the problem here? The natural scapegoat is always the goaltender, but is this more defensive than we think (or are willing to admit)? I can't seem to shake that third Florida goal, the one that ultimately stood as the nail in the coffin, where Stephen Weiss just busted his way into the crease and was given the liberty of poking around after a loose puck. Worst of all, Brooks Orpik was right there with great position to clear the player out of the crease, and instead just - to take a basketball term - posted up on him while Weiss worked his stick around to get enough on the puck. Granted Johnson's fall backward may have assisted the puck across the line, but we're not talking rocket science here: isn't Orpik's job to clear Weiss out of the crease?
That could be just one of the sore spots coming out of this road trip in Florida. It seems like the defense is a bit disjointed at times and the other team is capitalizing on those opportunities. The defensive effort against Tampa Bay was brutal and the stand against the Panthers wasn't anything to write home about either. Still don't know how I feel about that Tomas Fleischmann power-play goal either.
Maybe things will take a turn for the better when the Pens return home Monday night to host the Islanders. We shall see.