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(Friday, February 22nd)
Final Score: Pittsburgh 3, Florida 1
Pittsburgh, PA (Sports Network) - Matt Niskanen and Dustin Jeffrey scored in the third period to lift the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 3-1 win over the Florida Panthers at CONSOL Energy Center.
With the teams even at 1-1, the Panthers failed to clear the zone after killing a penalty and Niskanen fired a slap shot from the blue line that beat AHL callup Jacob Markstrom at the 7:49 mark.
Jeffrey tapped in Matt Cooke's cross-ice pass at the left post with 4:45 to play.
"I just went to the net. I didn't know if (Cooke) was going to shoot or pass. He ended up putting it right on my stick," Jeffrey said.
Marc-Andre Fleury turned away 22 shots for the Penguins, who have beaten the Panthers eight straight times at home.
Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin missed a significant portion of the third after being driven into the end boards by Florida defenseman Erik Gudbranson.
According to Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma, Malkin left on his own accord and will be further evaluated Friday night.
Markstrom finished with 37 saves for Florida, which has dropped six of seven.
"Second period we lost our legs and (Markstrom) made a big difference," said Panthers head coach Kevin Dineen. "He did a good job of coming up big when we needed him."
After a scoreless opening frame, the clubs traded goals in the second period.
The Panthers struck first as Mike Weaver's point shot got past Fleury at the 8:25 mark. The goal was initially credited to standout rookie Jonathan Huberdeau, who was providing a net-front presence on the play. Replays, though, deemed the puck never made contact with the 2011 No. 3 overall pick.
Pittsburgh responded a little over two minutes later behind its sizzling power play, with Chris Kunitz poking a puck through Markstrom from close range at 10:41. His goal gave the Penguins a tally with the man advantage in 10 straight contests.
The Penguins improved to 8-3-0 in February ... Florida lost for the first time in regulation this season when tied after two periods (2-1-3) ... Markstrom made his season debut after being recalled from the San Antonio Rampage on Wednesday. The 31st pick in the 2008 NHL Draft, Markstrom was 16-15-2 with a 2.65 goals-against average and a .920 save percentage in the minors this season ... Weaver found the back of the net for the first time since Jan. 25, 2011, snapping a 131-game goal drought.
02/23 00:06:34 ET