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Penguins vs. Panthers Recap: Pens don’t bring A-game, fall 4-1 to Florida

The Penguins hang in there for a little bit, but fade away in this game and lose 4-1 on Sunday to the Florida Panthers.

NHL: JAN 05 Panthers at Penguins Photo by Jeanine Leech/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images


After arriving back to the airport in Pittsburgh at 1:30 AM last night (and then getting home and getting to sleep at goodness knows what time), the Pens are back at it for an odd 5:00 PM start. Lineup remains the same, except in net where the waiting Tristan Jarry didn’t have to deal with all that travel.

First period

Just 2:28 in, the Panthers strike. After Jack Johnson pinches in and the puck gets past him, it’s Frank Vatrano racing down the left side. Kris Letang has the angle on him but Vatrano’s speed wins the day as he gets in all along. Tristan Jarry then kicks out the first shot that somehow ends up on Vatrano’s stick as he’s flying by at full speed and has the skill and/or luck to flip it in the net to make it 1-0.

Florida’s lead doesn’t last long, John Marino does well to win a puck battle, gets it to Patric Hornqvist who head-mans the puck up. Dominik Simon also makes a wonderful pass over for Jared McCann who snipes short-side on Chris Driedger to tie the game.

But the Pens’ fourth line gets them in trouble by icing the puck and then getting caught in their zone for an extended time. Then Letang tries to clear and it’s picked off (and the forward can’t offer much help) and the play eventually ends up with Vincent Trocheck making a nice pass to Brett Connolly and a lot of tired players watching him roof it into the net for a 2-1 lead.

Pittsburgh gets a power play, best chance comes when Alex Galchenyuk deflects a Juuso Riikola slapshot, but it only hits the crossbar and bounces back away from the net.

Shots in the first end up 11-10 Panthers.

Second period

Jarry makes just a sick diving save on Aaron Ekblad to keep the Pens in the game.

Next as Driedger’s turn, as he made two great saves, one on Zach Aston-Reese and another on Simon to sustain Florida’s lead.

No one scores though thanks to all that great goaltending, and for the second straight night the Pens go into the second intermission down 2-1, looking for a strong finish to pull out a win.

Shots in the second are 13-13 a piece.

Third period

Not sure if Jarry’s vision got hung up in the traffic or not, but he got sniped from distance to the glove side by Mike Hoffman to make it 3-1 FLA.

The Pens don’t get much of a push, eventually pull Jarry but it’s Evgeny Dadonov who is able to poke the puck into the empty net with 2+ minutes left to make it 4-1 and erase all doubt for this one.

Final thought

Flush and move on. Both teams were tired in the second game of a back-to-back, no advantage but the Pens weren’t all that sharp. Made too many mistakes and couldn’t do enough to beat a good goaltending performance. Sometimes is happens. Unfortunately though the road ahead doesn’t get better as the team has to fly across the country tomorrow and deal with switching three time zones and playing Tuesday night in a locale like Las Vegas. At least they won’t be in early enough to get the Vegas flu, but that’s a brutal travel schedule and tough way to play three games in four days when you’re talking Montreal to Pittsburgh to Vegas in a very brief time period. But such is life in the NHL, and that’s the way it goes sometimes.