A players-only meeting couldn’t stop the Pittsburgh Penguins slide, but coach Michael Therrien felt better about the effort than he has seen recently.
The Penguins look to avoid a season-high fourth straight loss Saturday when they host the Florida Panthers.
Pittsburgh (19-15-4) has lost four of its last five and is 4-9-0 since Dec. 6. The Penguins dropped their third straight Thursday, falling 4-2 at Boston to lose both ends of a home-and-home series with the Eastern Conference-leading Bruins.
“There’s no doubt its really tough right now,” said Sidney Crosby, who was held without a point for the third time in five games. “If we are going to start feeling sorry for ourselves and hanging our head, we won’t find a way to win.”
Dustin Jeffrey and Ruslan Fedotenko each scored but the Penguins’ offense continues to struggle. It went 0-for-5 on the power play to drop to 0-for-21 in the last five games. They’ve scored just seven goals overall during that stretch, and Evgeni Malkin—tied with Crosby for the team lead in goals with 15 — has been held without one in the last six games. He did have an assist Thursday after being held without a point in the previous two contests.
Despite the frustrations of the slump, Therrien was pleased with the effort Thursday after criticizing his players for lacking teamwork in their 5-2 home loss on Tuesday.
“I liked the way they responded from their meeting,” the coach said. “That’s a tough place to play.”
Pittsburgh’s offense could finally wake up against a Florida defense that has struggled recently.
The Panthers (16-16-5) are also looking to snap a losing streak after dropping their fourth straight (0-3-1) on Thursday in a 4-2 loss to the New York Islanders.
Florida had gone 8-2-1 prior to the losing streak, during which it allowed 21 goals. It’s given up 19 in the last four games, however, leading to a lot of goaltender shuffling. On Thursday, Tomas Vokoun was pulled for the second time in three games after he allowed three goals in two periods. His replacement, Craig Anderson, had been yanked early in the previous game—a 5-2 loss to the Montreal Canadiens.
“When they’re off a little bit our team goes off a little bit,” coach Peter DeBoer told the Panthers’ official Web site of his goaltending duo. “They did a great job for us for five, six weeks, and when they’re struggling it’s up to the forwards and defensemen to maybe give them a break and outplay the other team, and we haven’t done that for (the goalies).”
DeBoer named Anderson the team’s starter for this game. He is 8-4-2 with a 2.28 goals-against average in 15 starts, but allowed nine goals in his last two starts. This will be his fourth appearance and third start against Pittsburgh. He is 1-0-0 with a tie and a 1.99 GAA lifetime against the Penguins.
The Penguins won three of four against the Panthers last season, winning both home games. Crosby has five goals and 10 assists in 11 games against Florida.