The Pittsburgh Penguins are about to put their franchise-record home winning streak on the line, and the likelihood of it continuing seems high with the Florida Panthers coming to town.
The Penguins will aim for their 14th consecutive home win and ninth straight on home ice against the Panthers on Monday night in just their second game in a nine-day stretch.
After rallying for a 4-3 win over Washington on Wednesday, the Penguins (34-12-2) are 35-5-0 on home ice in the regular season since Feb. 22.
"It’s a tough place to play, our building, and even though it didn’t go our way at times … we fought back and it’s a great way to get the 13th win," coach Dan Bylsma said.
Jussi Jokinen and Olli Maatta each had a goal and an assist, both scoring in the final 8:25 to overcome the Capitals’ third one-goal lead of the game.
"(Jokinen) told me before the game that it was about time for me to score a goal," Maatta told the team’s official website after scoring the game winner with 1:54 left. "I did listen."
Jokinen has six points in his last three home games.
Sidney Crosby had an assist to extend his home point streak to 17 games, during which he has eight goals and 18 assists. Crosby, whose 68 points lead the NHL, has more points than the top three Panthers scorers combined (66).
Pittsburgh isn’t concerned about having had a four-day break between games, its longest of the season.
"Guys feel fresh," forward James Neal told the team’s official website. "You have to use that time off to your advantage, but you want to come back and act like you didn’t have that break. It’s a big game for us at home and we want to keep things rolling here in our home barn."
Getting healthy could help. Neal practiced Saturday after missing Wednesday’s game with an upper-body injury, while defenseman Paul Martin (leg) and forwards Jayson Megna (lower body) and Chuck Kobasew (lower body) also skated with their teammates for the first time in weeks.
Some or all could be a go on Monday.
Overall, Pittsburgh is 5-0-1 with 24 goals since the calendar turned while the Panthers (18-23-7) have eight non-shootout goals during a 2-3-1 stretch.
Florida hasn’t scored a power-play goal in its last nine, an 0-for-30 slump, though it’s also killed all 23 short-handed situations in that time.
The Panthers are 1 for 40 with the man advantage in their last 12 road games after wasting five chances in Saturday’s 3-2 loss at Carolina.
"The power play was not very good at times, but we have to be much better," coach Peter Horachek told the team’s official website. "That is an area where we have to take a look at different people or something."
Tim Thomas continued his stellar play in the loss. Since returning from a six-game absence on Dec. 31, Thomas is 3-3-2 with a .935 save percentage.
"Thomas has been outstanding and continues to give us an opportunity to win," Horachek said. "Now we have to find a way to push harder in the third and find a way to score that big goal."
Thomas has struggled lately against Pittsburgh dating to his time in Boston. He’s lost three straight against the Penguins with a 4.53 goals-against average and has been pulled from the last two, including a 5-1 home loss Nov. 30.
Penguins backup Jeff Zatkoff made a career-high 39 saves in that win after allowing six goals on 30 shots in a 6-3 loss at Florida on Oct. 11.
Evgeni Malkin has two goals and three assists against the Panthers this season.