Familiar script for Pens in loss to Florida
By Rob Rossi
Published: Tuesday, February 26, 2013, 10:27 p.m.
Updated: Wednesday, February 27, 2013
SUNRISE, Fla. — Marc-Andre Fleury is at it again.
So were his Penguins teammates Tuesday night.
Another undisciplined performance — coach Dan Bylsma could think of no better word to describe the Penguins' sixth game when allowing an opponent at least five power plays — started a road trip in the rockiest of ways.
The Florida Panthers scored four power-play goals in a 6-4 victory at BB&T Center.
The Penguins' penalty kill, a top-three staple each of the past two regular seasons, is at 78.8 percent through 20 games.
That is bottom-10 level.
Having had to kill 10 two-man advantages has not helped, but…
“We're taking too many penalties, and we're taking too many unnecessary penalties,” Bylsma said. “That's been a problem.”
As for the problem with the overall penalty kill, which is coming off a deflating 2012 postseason (12 goals surrendered on 23 chances in six games), defenseman Brooks Orpik provided a perplexed assessment.
“I don't know,” he said.
The Penguins (13-7-0, 26 points) are 2-4-0 in games when opponents are afforded at least five power plays.
Opponents are 4 for 10 on two-man advantages against the Penguins.
Panthers right winger Tomas Kopecky notched a hat trick, and left winger Tomas Fleischmann's 100th career marker, scored early in the third period, sent Fleury to a hard-luck loss.
That goal, scored after a failed Penguins' power play (1 for 4), was the only one allowed by Fleury, who replaced Tomas Vokoun near the midpoint of the game.
Vokoun, a regular in the NHL dating to 1998, was acquired after last season because Penguins management believed Fleury had insufficient help from backup Brent Johnson last season.
A heavy workload — Fleury appeared in 36 of the Penguins' final 44 games — contributed to his miserable opening-round playoff series loss to Philadelphia. He surrendered 26 goals in six games.
This homecoming of sorts — Vokoun is a former Panther and his wife and children still live within the South Florida community and attended the game Tuesday — marked only his seventh start. He has allowed 10 goals on 54 shots, a .815 save percentage, over his past two starts.
“The game was an onslaught at Tomas,” Bylsma said of this loss. “It was more of a situation of our team needing a change than our goaltending needing a change.”
The Penguins previously allowed five power-play goals — a franchise-worst total on the road — on three occasions:
• a 8-5 loss at Buffalo on Oct. 12, 1988;
• a 5-4 loss at Boston on Oct. 5, 1989;
• a 8-6 loss at Hartford on Feb. 26, 1989;
The offense of reigning MVP and two-time scoring champion Evgeni Malkin (concussion) was not missed.
Wingers James Neal (13th) and Chris Kunitz (eighth) scored for the Penguins. Defenseman Paul Martin (fourth) and center Dustin Jeffrey (second) also scored, and center Sidney Crosby recorded multiple points for the seventh game in February.
Crosby, though, said the Penguins “didn't deserve that one” against Florida.
“We just got outworked. That's pretty clear,” he said. “We have to adjust a bit. Most of the penalties were penalties. They were probably a result of the way we were playing. We were chasing, caught behind.”
Rob Rossi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @RobRossi_Trib.
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