Coming off a poor defensive performance in a loss to their fiercest rival, the Pittsburgh Penguins are eager to bounce back.
Recent home games against the Florida Panthers usually get them headed in the right direction.
Red-hot Marc-Andre Fleury will try to lead the Penguins to an eighth straight home win against the Panthers on Friday night.
Bidding for a fourth consecutive victory, Pittsburgh (11-6-0) instead turned in its worst defensive effort of the season Wednesday in a 6-5 loss to Philadelphia. The Penguins squandered a 2-0 lead and allowed a season high in goals, matching their total from the previous three contests.
"It's unfortunate,' said captain Sidney Crosby, who is tied for the NHL lead with 25 points. "We had a good start and didn't find a way to hold the lead.'
Crosby's team has won seven in a row at home - five after regulation - against the Panthers since a 3-2 loss on Jan. 3, 2009. He's missed three of those meetings but has four goals and two assists in the other four victories.
Fleury is scheduled to be back in net after Tomas Vokoun allowed all six goals on 32 shots against the Flyers. Fleury has won three straight starts and is 6-1-0 with a 2.01 goals-against average this month. He's won five consecutive starts against the Panthers, compiling a 1.36 GAA.
Evgeni Malkin's first goal in six games Wednesday gave the Penguins a power-play tally in nine straight contests. They are 13 for 38 with the man advantage during that span and rank second in the NHL with a 27.5 percent conversion rate.
James Neal has been the biggest part of that success, leading the league with eight power-play goals. Malkin has an NHL-best 13 power-play points and Neal is tied for second with 11.
Desperate for any positive signs, the Panthers (5-7-4) came up with plenty in Thursday's 5-2 victory at Philadelphia. Rookie Jonathan Huberdeau scored two goals - one on a penalty shot - and set up two others as Florida ended a five-game losing streak.
Peter Mueller also scored twice - his first goals in eight games - and Scott Clemmensen stopped 32 shots in the Panthers' first win since Feb. 7, also in Philadelphia.
"Four points out of Philadelphia is not too shabby, and we walk out of the place still standing,' coach Kevin Dineen said. "So that's not always the way it's worked here in Philly. A lot of atmosphere here, a lot of character, so it's good to come in here and get some wins.'
Huberdeau has five goals in his last five games and leads all rookies with eight.
"I'm glad he's on my team,' Clemmensen said. "I see him in practice every day. I'm not surprised at all.'
Dineen has several options in goal Friday. He could come back with Clemmensen, go back to starter Jose Theodore, who has a 3.87 GAA during an 0-2-2 skid, or give recent AHL callup Jacob Markstrom his first start of the season.
Theodore might be the best plan since he's 9-1-2 with a 2.45 GAA in his last 12 starts against the Penguins. He made 33 saves in Florida's most recent visit to Pittsburgh, a 2-1 shootout loss on March 9.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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