PITTSBURGH (CBSMiami/AP) — A flurry of shots by the Panthers didn’t faze the Pittsburgh’s Marc-Andre Fleury, who stopped 34 of them. Along with his defensive prowess, Patric Hornqvist and Evgeni Malkin each picked up two goals and an assist, helping the Penguins to a 5-1 win over Florida on Sunday night.READ MORE: Appeals Court Says Florida Tech Law Violates First Amendment
Paul Martin scored his third goal of the season for Pittsburgh, which won for the second time in less than 24 hours to keep pace in the crowded Metropolitan Division.
Sidney Crosby had two assists as the Penguins relied heavily on Fleury early before pulling away late to hand the Panthers their second straight loss.
Al Montoya made 21 saves for Florida but the surprising Panthers fell three points behind Boston in the chase for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with a quarter of the season remaining.
Scottie Upshall scored Florida’s lone goal long after the game was decided.
The Penguins have spent most of the past three months in an extended funk, an inconsistent stretch whose low point may have come last week when they were beaten soundly at home by Washington and again by Columbus two nights later.
Pittsburgh managed all of two goals combined in the defeats, leading coach Mike Johnston to shuffle the lines looking for a spark.
The dividends have come quickly.READ MORE: Site Of Surfside Condo Collapse To Be Sold To Dubai Developer
The Penguins rolled to a 4-2 victory in St. Louis on Saturday night behind two goals from Blake Comeau — moved to the second line with Malkin and Chris Kunitz — and were even more impressive after finding their legs late.
Fleury’s spectacular play allowed Pittsburgh to collect itself after a sluggish start. The Panthers, like Pittsburgh playing for the third time in four nights, peppered him early. Florida threw 16 shots at Fleury in the first period. Fleury turned away each one, including a sequence in which he lost both his glove and his stick and still managed to sweep the puck out of harm’s way.
Hornqvist gave the Penguins the lead 9:18 into the game with the kind of goal the team has struggled to produce of late. Kris Letang stepped in front of a clearing attempt and passed to Hornqvist diving toward the net. Montoya couldn’t get a grip on it and Pittsburgh was in front.
It stayed that way until late in the second, when a rink-wide pass by Florida’s Erik Gudbranson took a strange carom off the boards and the stick of Pittsburgh’s Nick Spaling right to Malkin. The former MVP broke in alone on Montoya and flipped a shot in the cavernous gap between Montoya’s legs.
Martin made it 3-0 just 19 seconds into the third on a pretty pass from Crosby and the rout was on. The Penguins — who scored their first power-play goal of the month on Saturday night — added another one on Sunday when Hornqvist powered a rebound by Montoya. Malkin roofed a backhand over the befuddled goaltender and Pittsburgh was on its way to improving to 15-2-3 against the Atlantic Division.
The only real suspense over the final 10 minutes centered on Fleury’s bid for an NHL-high ninth shutout. Upshall converted a nice crossing pass from Vincent Trocheck 12:23 into the third to put the Panthers on the board. It was only the third even-strength goal allowed by Fleury since Feb. 1.
NOTES: Pittsburgh scratched F Craig Adams for the sixth time this season. Adams had a team-record 319 consecutive games played streak end earlier this season. … Pittsburgh went 1 for 3 on the power play. The Panthers were 0 for 3. … The Penguins play at Washington on Wednesday. The Capitals have won all three meetings with Pittsburgh this season. … Florida begins a home-and-home against the Blackhawks on Tuesday in Chicago.MORE NEWS: Report: Three Americans Died Of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning At Bahamas Resort
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