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Drew Shore scores as Panthers rout Penguins

PITTSBURGH -- It was a monumental mismatch on paper.

Fortunately for the Panthers, hockey is played on ice, and they seem to get up for elite teams like the Eastern Conference-leading Penguins.

Behind superb goaltending from backup Scott Clemmensen and the first multiple-goal game of Drew Shore's fledgling career, the Panthers shocked the mighty Penguins 5-1 Monday night at a sold-out Consol Energy Center.

They ended a two-game losing streak and more significantly an eight-game slide in the Steel City dating back to a Jan. 3, 2009 6-1 win. The Panthers also snapped the Penguins' franchise-record 13-game winning streak at home (20-4) with their last loss here on Nov. 13 to the Flyers.

The 15th-place Panthers take the season series (2-1) for the first time since 2005-06 (3-1).

"I asked them for 60 minutes and 200 feet," Panthers coach Peter Horachek said. "It's a good showing from our guys to beat a team like Pittsburgh. It makes you feel you could beat the good teams if you prepare and play 60 minutes. I'm proud of them."

They did it with their vastly improved 28th-ranked penalty-killing unit against the NHL's top-ranked power play featuring superstars Sidney Crosby, the NHL's leading scorer, and Evgeni Malkin. They killed off all three of Pittsburgh's power plays and have not given up a PPG in their last 10-plus games (28-of-28) and just one in their last 13 road games (42-of-43 stops).

With defenseman Tom Gilbert in the box for high-sticking Malkin, Malkin fired a long shot that Clemmensen steered around the boards to ignite a 2-on-1 break with Marcel Goc and Shore.

Shore faked a cross-ice pass and wristed a laser past Michael Andre-Fleury's glove at 15:46 for the Panthers third shorthanded goal of the season and second in four games. Clemmensen received his third career assist, and first since the 2011-12 season.

"We kind of treated it like a playoff game," said Shore, who recorded two points in a game for the third time in his 55-game career. "I was having trouble settling the puck down. I'm trying to have more of a shoot-first mentality this year."

Clemmensen, in for a flu-stricken Tim Thomas (whose expected to start Tuesday in Buffalo), hadn't played since beating Montreal 2-1 on Dec. 29. He notched 35 saves and improves to 6-4-1.

"Everything clicked for us. Our penalty killing was excellent, we got a shorthanded goal, it took everyone," Clemmensen smiled. "That's when you know everything's going your way, when you get an assist, a guy with my skills."

The Panthers had three power-play chances in the second period, including a two-man advantage for five seconds, but stretched their 30th-ranked extra-man futility to 0-for-35 in their last 10-plus games.

At 13:34, Jesse Winchester -- who returned after missing the last 14 games with a broken hand -- fed Shore in front for a one-timer and 2-0 lead after two. Winchester notched a career-high three assists.

Defenseman Dmitry Kulikov put in a backhand rebound of Nick Bjugstad's shot at 1:17 of the third for a 3-0 cushion.

While skating 4-on-4, the Penguins ended Clemmensen's bid for a shutout at 5:11 when defenseman Matt Niskanen's shot from the point dribbled in.

The Panthers countered at 13:50, when a mad scramble in front of Fleury saw Jonathan Huberdeau and the puck end up in the net. No goal was called, but after a lengthy review from Toronto, it was ruled a goal to end Huberdeau's 16-game goal drought.

"That's how you score a goal, a snipe top shelf," Huberdeau kidded about his ugly goal. "It felt good to get that goal, I got to keep going.

"We got to make a statement. We know we can beat the best teams in the league. That's what we're doing. We have to go on a streak to get back into a playoff position."

Just 12 seconds later, Winchester fed Shawn Matthias for a bullet wrister and icing on a sweet victory. ...

The Panthers placed defenseman Mike Mottau on injured reserve to make room for Winchester. Mottau, a scratch for the past nine games, sustained a leg injury while training. ... Forward Tomas Kopecky is out with an upper-body injury, but it's not serious.

(c)2014 Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)

Visit the Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) at www.sun-sentinel.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services


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