PITTSBURGH (CBSMiami/AP) – The Florida Panthers will try to bounce back from their tough loss in Ottawa on Saturday against a team that has been dealing with a similar struggle to score goals.READ MORE: Miami Weather: Brief Downpours Possible Sunday Before Drier Air Works Its Way In
Inconsistent scoring is a problem for the Pittsburgh Penguins, particularly at home.
That’s usually not a problem for them against the Panthers, however.
The Penguins look to build on an encouraging offensive showing and continue their home dominance against the Panthers on Sunday.
Pittsburgh (33-17-9) has been feast or famine in front of the net during a 3-3-1 stretch, scoring 13 goals in those victories compared to three in the defeats.
The disparity has been on display while going 3-5-2 in the last 10 home games. The Penguins have totaled 16 goals in wins with just nine in losses.
They’re returning home looking to replicate the offensive display from Saturday’s 4-2 win at St. Louis, ending a three-game slide during which they only scored once in each contest.
“I think we did a lot of things we’ve been preaching over the last couple weeks,” said left wing Blake Comeau, who had two goals and one assist. “Getting guys to the net, and the specialty teams came up big. All in all, we’re happy we got the win. I thought we played well.”
The Penguins, though, would be thrilled if they could get consistent production from Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin again.
Crosby has scored in two of the past 14 games, totaling four goals. He ended a three-game pointless streak with an assist Saturday, but he’s a minus-5 over those four contests.READ MORE: Doral Police ID Officers Injured In Friday's Shooting
Malkin is starting to pull out of his funk, collecting a point in each of the last two games after getting three in the previous nine.
Crosby and Malkin could benefit from a visit by the Panthers (26-20-12). They both have 13 points in 13 home meetings, though Malkin is without a goal in the last five.
Pittsburgh has also won nine of the last 10 at home against Florida, scoring at least three goals in seven of those victories. Crosby was one of three Penguins to find the net in a 3-1 win Dec. 20.
Malkin’s goal with 3:10 left in regulation forced overtime two days later, but Pittsburgh fell 4-3 after a seven-round shootout in the back end of the home-and-home set.
While the Penguins are 11 points clear of the Eastern Conference’s playoff cutoff, the Panthers are one back of Boston for the second wild-card spot.
Florida failed to overtake the Bruins on Saturday, falling 4-1 at Ottawa after winning the first two of this five-game road trip.
“I didn’t like our game at all. We didn’t play well at all, we didn’t work hard, we didn’t compete hard and it was the longest night for me behind the Florida bench this year,” coach Gerald Gallant said. “We had a few chances in the first period and I thought Ottawa played well and they moved the puck, but we didn’t have any work ethic and I thought we played a real poor game.”
Gallant would surely like to see Nick Bjugstad get back on track. The center has been held without a point for the last two games after scoring five times in the prior seven.
His 21 goals and 36 points lead the Panthers, and he just needs two more points to match his total as a rookie last season. However, he’s only tallied an assist in five games against Pittsburgh.
Backup Al Montoya is expected to start despite a 4.37 goals-against average while losing four of five starts against the Penguins.MORE NEWS: Six People Hospitalized Following Boat Explosion In Dania Beach
Pittsburgh’s Marc-Andre Fleury has a 1.00 GAA in his last six starts but has been saddled with a 3-2-1 record due to a lack of support. He is 6-1-0 with a 1.93 GAA in his last seven home starts versus Florida.