Tue, 27 Sep 2022

Panthers aim to regain early-season form vs. Penguins

Field Level Media
11 Nov 2021, 07:06 GMT+10

The Florida Panthers and Pittsburgh Penguins have experienced different levels of turbulence since they met in the first week of the season.

The teams will look to get it together on Thursday when they reconvene in Pittsburgh.

The Panthers posted a 5-4 overtime win against the visiting Penguins on Oct. 14.

Florida was en route to recording a 10-0-1 mark in its first 11 games. Then came regulation losses on the road this week, courtesy of a 4-3 setback against the New York Rangers on Monday and a 7-3 defeat the following night versus the New Jersey Devils.

"Right now it's tough. It hurts. We didn't show up the way we wanted," Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov said.

"We don't want to trade goals back and forth. That's not us. We want to play a solid, simple game."

Florida could get No. 1 goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky back Thursday from an upper-body injury. He was well enough to serve as the backup Tuesday.

That could be a boon after touted rookie backup Spencer Knight surrendered 10 goals in the two losses this week.

"We didn't help him either night," Panthers interim coach Andrew Brunette said of Knight in the back-to-back losses.

On the flip side, forward Mason Marchment went on injured reserve Tuesday because of an upper-body injury, and Brunette indicated Marchment would miss at least a couple games.

Brunette is 3-2-1 since taking over for Joel Quenneville.

Pittsburgh went its first five games without a regulation loss before limping to a 1-3-2 record in its last six contests.

The Penguins have dropped two straight in shootouts, and those losses have exposed not only their lack of goals in that setting but also No. 1 goaltender Tristan Jarry's struggles when a game goes past overtime.

Jarry has stopped just three of 10 shots he has faced in shootouts this season. That means he has not improved his save rate in shootouts from previous seasons, when he stopped six of 20 leading up to this campaign.

"It's an area that we need to continue to work at and improve, and there are ways to do that," Pittsburgh assistant and interim head coach Todd Reirden said. "We'll be exhausting all options to do that."

Reirden is filling in while Penguins coach Mike Sullivan goes through COVID-19 protocol. Sullivan, team captain Sidney Crosby and half of the team's regular defensemen have missed the past three games after testing positive.

Sullivan, Crosby and defenseman Brian Dumoulin all experienced symptoms of the virus.

Defensemen Marcus Pettersson and Chad Ruhwedel have been cleared and practiced Wednesday.

Sullivan, meanwhile, is doing all he can to continue to be involved from afar. According to Reirden, Sullivan narrates video clips and forwards them to the team; video chats with the staff between periods of games based on what he sees on TV; and keeps in touch by phone several times a day.

"He's very involved, and as he continues to feel better he'll be even more involved," Reirden said. "It's great to have his input. He's very involved and obviously extremely passionate about our team and us getting back going here."

--Field Level Media

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