An anemic offense couldn't help Pittsburgh get past a couple of playoff-bound teams in two games since.
Hoping to avoid losing three in a row for the first time in more than a month, the visiting Penguins look to sweep their first season series from the free-falling Panthers on Saturday night.
Pittsburgh and Florida are struggling to score goals, but while the Panthers have already been eliminated from playoff contention, the Penguins are in the mix for first place in Eastern Conference.
Pittsburgh (45-25-8) had an opportunity to pull into a tie with East-leading Philadelphia on Tuesday but suffered a 5-2 home loss to the Flyers.
Two days later, the Penguins lost to Tampa Bay 2-1 in a possible first-round playoff series preview. The fifth-place Lightning moved within three points of fourth-place Pittsburgh, which hasn't lost three straight since going 0-2-2 from Feb. 20-25.
"We've got to finish strong," center Michael Rupp said. "Our goal is to have Game 1 (of the playoffs) in Pittsburgh."
That could be tough if the offense doesn't get on track.
The Penguins have scored five regulation goals in their last five games, once on the power play in the past eight, and are 3 for 64 with the man advantage in the last 19 contests.
"Bounces will hopefully start to find their way to the back of the net," said left wing James Neal, who has one goal in 17 games since being acquired from Dallas, where he scored 21 times in 59 contests.
"Everybody needs to have some urgency. When we get the power play, we can't relax at all just because they're a man down. We got to grab a hold of it and do something about it."
The offensive woes have been prevalent since Sidney Crosby suffered a concussion Jan. 5, causing him to miss the last 37 games.
The Penguins got some good news Thursday when Crosby, who still leads the team with 32 goals and 66 points, took part in a no-contact gameday skate for the first time since his injury. The captain is not yet ready to participate in full practices, and a return to game action for the postseason has not been completely ruled out.
Pittsburgh's last victory was 2-1 in a shootout over Florida on Sunday. The Penguins have won three straight and are 6-1-0 in the series since the start of last season.
Florida (29-37-12) has lost a season-worst seven straight and has scored six goals in its last six games. The Panthers have been held to two goals or fewer in 15 of their last 20, going 4-11-5.
Florida, which hasn't dropped eight in a row since an 0-8-4 skid Oct. 27-Nov. 23, 2005, is coming off a 4-1 loss to Ottawa on Thursday.
"Disappointing effort," coach Pete DeBoer said. "We haven't had many of them, but that's one for sure. We got beat in a lot of different areas on the ice. Our best players weren't good, from the goalie to the first line to our leading scorer to anybody."
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