Final score: Panthers 6, Penguins 4.
Why it matters: The Penguins wasted an opportunity to reclaim first place in the Eastern Conference by losing to the team at the bottom of the conference.
In a nutshell: The Penguins gave up four power-play goals during the first 29 minutes – the first time they've allowed that many in a game since Dec. 13, 2008 – but still managed to pull even by scoring three unanswered goals during the final 10 minutes, nine seconds of the middle period. They could not, however, capitalize on two power plays of their own during the third period, and 10 seconds after the Panthers killed the first of those, Tomas Fleischmann scored what proved to be the game-winner.
Turning point: The Penguins' inability to convert on a hooking call against Fleischmann 79 seconds into the final period, then Fleischmann beating goalie Marc-Andre Fleury on a two-on-one break 10 seconds after his penalty expired, was the final significant twist in a game that was full of them.
Under the radar: Penguins D Paul Martin had another strong game, recording a goal, a hit and three blocked shots during a team-high 27 minutes, 33 seconds of playing time.
Worth noting: The Penguins gave up the first goal of the game for the first time in 11 games on the road this season. ... Penguins D Kris Letang was held without a point for the first time in six games, preventing him from setting a career-best scoring streak. ... Florida's power play had been 0-for-17 in its previous five home games, all losses. ... Both starting goalies were pulled. Tomas Vokoun of the Penguins was yanked after giving up four goals on 22 shots, while Florida's Jose Theodore was replaced by Scott Clemmensen after the Penguins scored on four of 19 shots against him.
The brightest star: Florida winger Tomas Kopecky recorded a hat trick – he had two power-play goals and an empty-netter – and an assist to lift the Panthers to just their second victory in the past nine games.
The last word: D Matt Niskanen, assessing the Penguins' overall performance: "We did a good job of battling back, getting ourselves into a game that we really didn't have any business being in. Then we just gave it away in the third. We just weren't very good at all. You're not going to have your best every night, but we didn't play the way we need to to have success."
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