Panthers welcome Pens in home opener

    8:45 AM, Oct 11, 2013   |    comments
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    (SportsNetwork.com) - The Pittsburgh Penguins try to continue their best start to a season in 19 years on Friday night as they hit the road for the first time to battle Florida in the Panthers' home opener.

    The Penguins have won each of their first three games this season for the first time since a 7-0 start to the 1994-95 campaign. All three victories came at home, with Pittsburgh outscoring its opponents 12-3.

    The Pens have yet to trail in a game this season, though they did blow a 2-0 lead on Tuesday against the Carolina Hurricanes before notching the game's final three goals in a 5-2 triumph.

    Jussi Jokinen paced the offense against his former team with his second career hat trick.

    "That's a great organization over there and I don't harbor any bad feeling about them," said Jokinen, who was traded to Pittsburgh from Carolina last April. "It's hockey and things aren't always fair."

    Paul Martin and Tanner Glass each lit the lamp for the Penguins, while Marc- Andre Fleury posted 32 saves to pick up the win. Fleury has been in net for all three games this season, posting a 1.00 goals against average and .963 save percentage.

    The Penguins have won five straight road openers and are also slated to visit the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday. Head coach Dan Bylsma is expected to start backup goaltender Jeff Zatkoff in one of the games this weekend.

    The 26-year-old Zatkoff has yet to appear in an NHL game, while Fleury is 11-7-0 with a 2.48 GAA in 19 lifetime meetings with the Panthers.

    Florida will play two straight and eight of its next nine at home after going 1-3-0 on the road to begin the season. That includes three straight loss after picking up a win in Dallas to begin the campaign.

    The Panthers were routed 7-2 on Thursday by the Lightning, who got a hat trick from Steven Stamkos.

    Jonathan Huberdeau and Brad Boyes each scored for the Panthers, with Boyes netting his club's first power-play goal of the season. Florida is 1-for-21 on the man advantage this season.

    "We're just going to have to find a reason why we're having these letdowns," said Huberdeau. "It's no excuse being on the road, these things can happen at home just as easily if we don't fix them."

    Jacob Markstrom gave up six goals on 24 shots before being pulled in the third period. Scott Clemmensen gave up a goal on four shots in relief, his first appearance of the season.

    Clemmensen, who had minor knee surgery this offseason, was recalled from the American Hockey League on Wednesday, one day after Tim Thomas exited a loss to Philadelphia early due to a groin injury.

    It is unknown who will get the start for the Panthers tonight.

    Florida will look to win its fourth straight home opener. It bested Carolina to kick off its home schedule last year, with Huberdeau recording his first career goal and three points in the game.

    The Panthers lost two of three to the Penguins a season ago and Pittsburgh has won 12 of the last 15 meetings overall.

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