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IRON CITY VICTORY: Panthers Win in Pittsburgh for First Time Since the Igloo .. Shore Scores Twice, Clemmensen Sharp in 5-1 Win

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards

PITTSBURGH -- The Panthers knew no one gave them much of a shot before Monday's game against the Penguins.

Only just about everything went right for the Panthers as they rolled to a 5-1 win over the Eastern Conference's top team.

"This is a tough place to play,'' coach Peter Horachek said. "It's good for our guys to know they can beat the good teams if you prepare and play 60 minutes. It's just one game, but it's good for our guys. I'm proud of them.''

Florida, which hadn't won here in over five years, got great performances from Drew Shore (two goals), Jesse Winchester (three primary assists), Mike Weaver (plus-5) and backup goalie Scott Clemmensen (35 saves) to put an end the Penguins' franchise record 13-game home winning streak.

The Penguins had won eight straight and 11 of 12 at home against the Panthers. Florida took the season series by winning two of three.

"We wanted to treat this game as a playoff game,'' said Shore, who scored Florida's first two goals to give the Panthers a 2-0 lead heading into the third.

"We wanted to make a statement to ourselves. We knew they would come hard. It feels good to get a win.''

The Penguins hadn't lost to the Panthers on home ice since they played in the now-demolished Igloo across the street.

How long ago was that? That game, on Jan. 3, 2009, is best known for Sidney Crosby jumping the diminutive Brett McLean in the faceoff circle and spending much of the day in the penalty box.

Scorers for the Panthers that day were Richard Zednik, Bryan McCabe, Nathan Horton and Ville Peltonen.

Horton was traded away four years ago; Zednik and Peltonen left the NHL after that season. McCabe is in Florida's front office.

"I thought our guys played pretty well from the beginning,'' Horachek said. "We got a lot of contributions from a lot of people.''

Shore got the scoring going for the Panthers as Florida was killing a penalty. The Panthers haven't given up a power play goal since Dec. 28 -- a run of 26 straight kills.

After Clemmensen blocked a shot, Shore picked up the puck and went on a 2-on-1 break with Marcel Goc. Shore kept the puck and beat Marc-Andre Fleury (23 saves) to make it 1-0.

"Everything came together for us,'' said Clemmensen, who got the assist on that one. "This is a tough league. But [Monday], everything clicked. I got an assist. That's when you know everything is going your way.

"A guy with my puck-handling skills doesn't get an assist very often.''

Shore made it 2-0 in the second when he took a Winchester pass from behind the net and scored. Dmitry Kulikov made it 3-0 early in the third when he jumped on a fat rebound and wrapped the puck around Fleury.

Pittsburgh cut its deficit when Matt Niskanen scored at 5:11 of the third, but the Panthers put it away when Jonathan Huberdeau scored his first goal since Dec. 5 on a wacky play that led to a review considered the longest in Panthers history.

Huberdeau and Nick Bjugstad crashed the net with Huberdeau being hit from behind and thrown into the goal cage -- along with the puck. Moments after the goal was allowed, Shawn Matthias made it 5-1 on yet another slick feed from Winchester.

"It feels really good, but this is a big win for our team,'' Huberdeau said. "We needed to make a statement. We know we can beat the best team in the league. We just need to get on a streak and get back into playoff position.''

THOMAS ILL

Starter Tim Thomas took his first game off in weeks after getting hit with a flu bug he said had run through his family. Thomas, who had started eight straight games, is expected to be back in net Tuesday night in Buffalo.

"I feel a lot better today than I did [Sunday],'' Thomas said after a robust workout Monday morning.

-- Florida put defenseman Mike Mottau (leg) on the injured list to make room for Winchester.

Horachek said Mottau suffered a leg injury a few days ago and hasn't skated lately. Mottau hasn't played in the past 20 games.

-- Tomas Kopecky missed Monday's game after being slammed shoulder-first into the boards Saturday in Carolina. Horachek said Kopecky could be back as early as Tuesday.

TUESDAY: PANTHERS AT SABRES

When, Where: 7 p.m.; First Niagara Center, Buffalo

TV/Radio: FSNF; WQAM-560

The series: Buffalo leads 34-29-4

The game: The Sabres remain last in the Atlantic Division yet have split the first two games of this three-game set with the Panthers. Florida won here 2-1 in a shootout on Jan. 9.

 

Comments

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the panthers need to play like that all of the time, hard work and winning the battles.

If this team is turning the corner they have to outwork Buffalo tonight.

The Panthers will win the Stanley Cup this season.

The Cats seem to have one or two "WTF?" wins every year. This year, both seem to be against The Pens.

How long do you guys think it'll be before Weaver and/or Gilbert is moved to make room for Olsen?

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