Penguins-Panthers Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated April 12, 2013
While they're still missing several key players, the Pittsburgh Penguins have had little trouble generating offense the last two games as they continue their push for the best record in the Eastern Conference. That trend could continue Saturday night as they visit a last-place Florida Panthers team that's allowed the most goals in the conference by far. Seeking their fourth straight win overall and a three-game sweep of their road trip, the Penguins (31-10-0) continue to play without center Sidney Crosby, left wing James Neal and defenseman Paul Martin. It's hardly slowed them down in the past two games, though, as Pittsburgh has scored 11 goals. Jussi Jokinen had two goals and an assist while Pascal Dupuis added a goal and two assists in a 6-3 win over Tampa Bay on Thursday. Pittsburgh had totaled six goals in its previous four contests. The Atlantic Division champion Penguins have a five-point lead over Montreal for the top seed in the conference. "Obviously, we have a really good team and we're missing a couple of key players still,'' Jokinen said. "We have some depth on this team as well, and that's what you need when you go to the playoffs.'' Dupuis has helped to fill the offensive void with three goals and five assists during a four-game point streak. Dupuis had six goals and five assists in his last 13 games against the Panthers before this year, though he's been held off the scoresheet in two meetings in 2013. Kunitz, who leads the team with 21 goals, has produced a point in six of seven in this series with three goals and five assists during that stretch. He scored his team-best ninth goal on the power play as Pittsburgh broke out of a 1-for-14 slump by going 3 of 6 on Thursday. The Penguins could be in for another productive effort with the man advantage against the Panthers, last in the league in penalty killing at 74.6 percent. Florida (13-21-6) - tied for the fewest points in the NHL with 32 - had won four of five before getting routed 7-2 at Winnipeg on Thursday. It was the sixth time the Panthers have given up at least six goals, and their 139 goals allowed are 10 more than any other East team. "There's lots of different things we can point at," coach Kevin Dineen told the team's official website. "I think the whole game didn't go for us." Scott Clemmensen could get the start in net Saturday after replacing Jacob Markstrom halfway through Thursday's loss. Markstrom, who has allowed 10 goals in his last two starts, stopped 37 shots in a 3-1 loss at Pittsburgh on Feb. 22. Tomas Kopecky had three goals and an assist in a 6-4 victory over the Penguins four days later. Teammate Tomas Fleischmann has three goals and five assists during a seven-game point streak, and five goals and three assists over his last seven against the Penguins. Though it's struggled to kill penalties, Florida has been effective on the power play, going 7 of 14 in a five-game span before an 0-for-2 effort against the Jets. Marc-Andre Fleury is likely to be back in net for Pittsburgh after getting a night off Thursday in favor of Tomas Vokoun. Fleury has won six straight starts with a 1.30 GAA against the Panthers. The Penguins have taken 11 of 14 meetings in this series.
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