National Hockey League
Preview
Florida at Pittsburgh
When: 7:00 PM ET, Saturday, December 20, 2014
Where: Consol Energy Center, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania


The Florida Panthers keep finding ways to collect points and hope to continue that trend when they visit the Eastern Conference-leading Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday in the opener of a home-and-home series. The Panthers won their second straight 2-1 shootout - the first in a league-record 20 rounds - and are 7-2-2 in their last 11, with 10 decided by one goal. "We just want to keep it going," goaltender Roberto Luongo said. "These points before Christmas are huge for our club."

Captain Sidney Crosby returned to the lineup Thursday following a three-game absence due to the mumps as the Penguins edged Colorado 1-0 in overtime. Goaltenders Marc-Andre Fleury and Thomas Greiss as well as defenseman Robert Bortuzzo also were tested for the malady and came back negative, but blue-liner Olli Maatta - already sidelined by a shoulder injury - tested positive for the mumps. Pittsburgh hasn't won three in a row since Nov. 14-18.

TV: 7 p.m. ET, FSN Florida, ROOT (Pittsburgh)

ABOUT THE PANTHERS (14-8-8): Florida has played a league-high 13 games that have gone beyond regulation and is 3-0-1 in its last four contests, with Luongo in net for three shootout victories to give him his longest winning streak since a five-game run with Vancouver in December 2013. "We have a lot of confidence any time with Luongo in net," said Dave Bolland, who scored the decisive tally in Thursday's 2-1 victory over Philadelphia. "He's the backbone of our team." The Panthers have earned a point in 13 of the last 17 road games.

ABOUT THE PENGUINS (21-6-4): After receiving a clean bill of health, Fleury went out and made 29 saves to register his 34th career shutout and league-leading sixth of the season - one shy of Tom Barrasso's franchise mark for a campaign. “The way we’re playing (defensively), we’re not giving other teams too much,” Fleury said. “It’s been making my job a little easier.” Although Pittsburgh unleashed a season-high 48 shots against Colorado, it continues to struggle on the power play - failing on both chances to fall to 2-for-29 over the past 10 games.

OVERTIME

1. Penguins F Evgeni Malkin has three goals and five assists during a six-game point streak.

2. Luongo needs one victory to surpass Mike Vernon (385) for 12th place on the all-time wins list.

3. The teams have split the past six meetings, with Florida scoring 17 goals in its three victories.

PREDICTION: Penguins 4, Panthers 2
Stats and Records
Team Comparison
  W/L Strk Home Away Day Night Div
Florida 14-8-4-4 W2 7-4-0-2 7-4-4-2 1-1-0-0 13-7-4-4 5-1-3-0
Pittsburgh 21-6-2-2 W2 12-4-0-1 9-2-2-1 1-0-0-0 20-6-2-2 5-4-1-2
Last Meeting
Florida Pittsburgh
Date Away Home Shots Saves PP Shots Saves PP
1/20/14 FLA 5 PIT 1 28 35 0-3 36 23 0-3
Player Stats
Previous Matchup
Total Points Player  
Florida J. Winchester 3
Pittsburgh K. Letang 1
Goals Player  
Florida D. Shore 2
Pittsburgh M. Niskanen 1
Assists Player  
Florida J. Winchester 3
Pittsburgh K. Letang 1
Saves Player  
Florida S. Clemmensen 35
Pittsburgh M. Fleury 23
Season
Total Points Player  
Florida N. Bjugstad 19
Pittsburgh E. Malkin 38
Goals Player  
Florida N. Bjugstad 12
Pittsburgh E. Malkin 15
Assists Player  
Florida A. Ekblad 13
Pittsburgh S. Crosby 26
Saves Player  
Florida R. Luongo 722
Pittsburgh M. Fleury 708
Quickchart Matchup
Florida Off vs  Pittsburgh Def
2.13 GF
2.23 GA
30.8 Shots
29.7 Shots
12 PP
16 PK
Pittsburgh Off vs  Florida Def
3.13 GF
2.4 GA
31 Shots
30.3 Shots
26 PP
20 PK