Linemates Valeri Bure and Kristian Huselius each had a goal and an assist to help Florida build a three-goal lead, but the Panthers had to withstand a third-period rally to extend their winning streak against the Pittsburgh Penguins to seven games with a 3-2 victory Saturday.
“We’re happy that we won, but we’re not happy with the way we played,” said goaltender Roberto Luongo. “We have to be more disciplined.
“The most important thing is the two points, and we’ve got to be happy with that, but we still have some work to do.”
“We had a 3-0 lead and made two plays that almost cost us the hockey game,” said general manager-coach Rick Dudley, 2-1 since taking over after Mike Keenan was fired on Nov. 9. “One time we didn’t get the puck in deep, and one time we didn’t get the puck out of our zone. But we settled down after that and did a good job of controlling them in scoring areas.”
Olli Jokinen added his team-leading seventh goal—and scored for the sixth straight game against Pittsburgh—as Florida built its three-goal lead on the way to its second win over the Penguins in nine days. The Panthers jumped to a 2-0 lead before beating Pittsburgh 6-3 Nov. 7.
“Getting down early is so tough, because then you have to play a different way, and so much harder,” Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik said. “They can just sit back and conserve their energy.”
Jokinen scored when he won a faceoff back to Pavel Trnka at the left point and then backhanded the puck past Sebastien Caron when Trnka’s shot bounced off Niklas Hagman with 44 seconds left in the first period.
A wide-open Huselius scored his third of the season from the slot 1:24 into the second period when he converted Bure’s pass from the right wing for his first goal in 15 games.
“We created some good chances, and when we do that we have to put the puck in the net,” Huselius said. “If we keep shooting the puck, we’re going to score some goals.”
Huselius returned the favor with 5:21 left in the period, working a pretty give-and-go with Bure, who skated past Brian Holzinger and deked Caron before scoring his fourth goal of the season.
“I just got the puck to Kristian, and I didn’t know what he was going to do with it—he has so many moves,” said Bure. “He slowed the play down andbasically gave me a breakaway.”
The Penguins played without Mario Lemieux (hip), Dan Focht (broken finger), Rico Fata (hamstring) and Steve Webb. Lemieux, who has missed six games, hopes to return to the lineup in the next week. … Florida has six players injured, including Viktor Kozlov (jaw), Matt Cullen (groin), Mathieu Biron (hand), Byron Ritchie (knee), Andreas Lilja (shoulder) and Darcy Hordichuk (foot). … Vaclav Nedorost, acquired from Colorado in July, appeared in his first game for the Panthers. He had played two games with San Antonio ofthe AHL while rehabilitating from offseason shoulder surgery.