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Panthers host Penguins aiming to rebound on homestand
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Florida Panthers aim to rebound on Saturday night as they continue their five-game homestand with a matchup against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The Panthers have split the first two of their residency, besting the Philadelphia Flyers on Monday to improve to 3-1-1 in their previous five games before getting defeated 5-2 by the New York Rangers on Wednesday.
Scottie Upshall and Nick Bjugstad scored in the third period for the Panthers, with Bjugstad making it a one-goal game with 3:43 to play.
The Rangers, though, padded their lead with a power-play tally with 1:28 on the clock and sealed things on an empty-net tally.
"It's tough getting down," Bjugstad said. "We always show a lot of fight coming back. I think the main thing is just showing the fight before we have to come back. We've got room for improvement, but a lot of guys are getting better."
Tim Thomas turned aside 17-of-21 shots in his 10th start in a row. He is 8-6-4 with a 2.72 goals against average in 18 career meetings with the Penguins, all but one of those starts.
Thomas was out with a groin injury when the Panthers beat a visiting Penguins club on Oct. 11 for just their third victory in the previous 12 meetings in this series.
Jacob Markstrom made 36 saves, Brad Boyes scored twice and both Jonathan Huberdeau and Aleksander Barkov scored during a two-man advantage in the second period.
Jeff Zatkoff made his NHL debut between the pipes on that day for Pittsburgh and gave up all six goals on 30 shots, while Craig Adams, Evgeni Malkin and Pascal Dupuis scored in defeat.
It is unknown if Zatkoff will face the Panthers again tonight or if Marc-Andre Fleury earned starts on consecutive days after notching a 21-save shutout on Friday versus the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Fleury backstopped the 3-0 decision to earn his 26th career shutout, rebounding from getting pulled early in Wednesday's game versus Toronto.
"I just go one shot at a time and don't think too far ahead because sometimes you play well and they don't get too much, and then they get a bad one," said Fleury. "So I just try to be ready for it and go from there."
Fleury is 11-7-0 with a 2.48 GAA and one shutout in his career versus the Panthers.
Chris Kunitz scored twice and Brandon Sutter added a power-play goal for the Penguins, who are 5-1-1 in their last seven games.
Sidney Crosby assisted on all three goals, with his second helper the 700th point of his career.
"You obviously play to win, but when you get little individual things you enjoy it for a little bit," Crosby said. "It's fun to see that but ultimately you play to win games. It's nice we were able to get a win on the same night. Numbers like that are always exciting to be a part of."
Crosby leads the NHL with 36 points, while Malkin is tops with 25 assists after getting a helper on Friday. He has three goals and 10 assists over a seven-game point streak with at least one assist in each game.
11/30 11:21:38 ET
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