Final OT

Series (Game 2 of 4)

Pittsburgh leads 3-1

Game 1: Friday, October 23rd
Game 2: Monday, November 23rd
Game 3: Saturday, December 12th
Game 4: Sunday, January 3rd

Penguins 3

(16-8-0, 32 pts)

Panthers 2

(10-9-3, 23 pts)

7:30 PM ET, November 23, 2009

BB&T Center, Sunrise, Florida

1 2 3 OT T
PIT 0 0 2 13
FLA 1 1 0 02

S. Crosby (Penguins - C): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

K. Ballard (Panthers - D): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

N. Horton (Panthers - RW): Goals: 1, Assists: 1

Penguins-Panthers Preview


Sweeping a three-game road trip has done a great deal for the Florida Panthers' confidence. Tomas Vokoun is also playing a major role.

Vokoun and the Panthers will try to carry their momentum into a three-game homestand Monday night when they face the Pittsburgh Penguins, one of the best road teams in the NHL.

The Panthers (10-9-2) have missed the playoffs for eight consecutive seasons. It initially appeared that dismal stretch was almost certain to continue in 2009-10, as they got off to a 2-7-1 start that included a 3-2 shootout loss at Pittsburgh (15-8-0) on Oct. 23.

Florida, however, has since turned its season around, going 8-2-1 overall while winning six of seven on the road (6-1-0).

That success was punctuated by sweeping a three-game road trip that started with Wednesday's 6-2 win at Northeast Division-leading Buffalo. The Panthers followed that up Friday by getting a goal from Bryan McCabe 40 seconds into overtime to clinch a 2-1 win at defending Western Conference champion Detroit.

They capped the jaunt the following night by beating the New York Rangers 3-2 behind Vokoun's 30 saves.

"We're feeling confident," said right wing Nathan Horton, who has two goals and four assists over the last five games. "This was a big road trip against really good teams. It's nice to get all three wins, but we're not out of the woods yet. It's only a start."

Vokoun, who is expected to be in net again Monday, has been a big part of the Panthers' turnaround, posting a 6-1-1 record with a 1.71 goals-against average, three shutouts and a .947 save percentage in his last eight starts. He had been 1-7-1 with a 3.65 GAA in his first nine games of the season.

Florida wasted Vokoun's effort against the Penguins on Oct. 23, when he made 41 saves -- six in overtime -- plus two more in the shootout while giving up the game-winner to Sidney Crosby.

He's 1-4-2 with a 2.98 GAA in seven games against Pittsburgh since joining the Panthers via trade from Nashville prior to the 2007-08 season.

The Penguins won their first seven games on the road before losing four in a row. They ended that slide Sunday, beating Atlanta 3-2 for their third victory in four games overall.

Crosby, who assisted on one of Martin Skoula's two goals against the Thrashers, has one goal and five assists over the last five games after enduring a five-game point drought.

The center has been more involved in the offense overall lately, but he's netted just one goal in the last 11 games after scoring nine in the first 12.

Crosby's goal-scoring problems have been evident on the road, where he's come up empty in his last nine games. He's managed three assists in those contests.

The three-time All-Star might have a good chance to shake out of his scoring funk at Florida. He has nine goals and 11 assists in 16 games against the Panthers.

The Panthers are 3-5-1 at home this season, but 10-3-1 their last 14 times hosting Pittsburgh.