SUNRISE, Fla. – The Pittsburgh Penguins hardly look like defending Stanley Cup champions these days.
Radek Dvorak scored three goals for his third NHL hat trick, and Tomas Vokoun stopped 46 shots as the Florida Panthers beat Pittsburgh 6-2 on Sunday night, sending the Penguins to their season-high fifth straight loss.
Rostislav Olesz, Jordan Leopold and Steven Reinprecht also scored for the Panthers, who rallied from a 2-0 deficit and snapped a three-game losing streak. Nathan Horton, Michael Frolik and Gregory Campbell each had two assists.
Sidney Crosby and Tyler Kennedy scored first-period goals, and Marc-Andre Fleury made 29 saves for Pittsburgh, which has lost six of seven.
“We can’t start second-guessing or make excuses, we have to work through it,” Crosby said. “It’s just a bad stretch we’re in, but if we keep working hard and not let it get to us, we’ll be OK.”
Pittsburgh had won the three previous meetings with Florida, twice in overtime and once in a shootout.
“We had some tough luck against them. They scored some last-minutes goals, but today we got the breaks,” Vokoun said.
For most of the first period, Pittsburgh seemed on its way toward salvaging the finale of a four-game road trip.
“I had the worst feeling in the world when they lost to Tampa Bay (on Saturday night) because I knew we would be getting some pretty peeved Stanley Cup champions,” Panthers coach Peter DeBoer said.
Leopold scored late in the first period, and Dvorak and Olesz scored 62 seconds apart late in the second to give the Panthers a 3-2 lead.
“We said to ourselves after the first period that we have step up. That was not the game we wanted to play,” Dvorak said.
Dvorak scored at 17:35 after Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin lost the puck on Campbell’s stick check deep in the Penguins zone. Olesz, standing in front, then knocked down Bryan Allen’s slap shot and quickly put the puck past Fleury with 1:23 left in the period.
Crosby and Kennedy scored to help Pittsburgh take a 2-1 lead after one period.
Crosby picked up a loose puck in the Panthers’ zone and, from the right circle, fired a wrist shot past Vokoun. Crosby’s 24th goal – his second in eight games – gave the Penguins a 2-0 lead at 10:39.
Kennedy’s seventh came after he poked the puck off the side boards, picked it up in the neutral zone and skated in on Vokoun’s left side. Kennedy fired a shot that was slowed by Vokoun, but the puck trickled in at 5:49.
“We pressured them a lot but (Vokoun) came up big on us. It’s a little bit frustrating,” Kennedy said.
Pittsburgh will face Atlanta and Philadelphia at home before heading back out on a five-game trip.
“We just have to stay focused on getting out of this,” Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said. “We want to get things going in the right way. To a man, these guys are dedicated to doing that.”
NOTES: Dvorak’s previous hat trick was a four-goal game for the New York Rangers at the New York Islanders on March 29, 2001. … Vokoun is 2-4-4 against Pittsburgh. … The Penguins hadn’t dropped five in a row since Dec. 27, 2008-Jan. 5, 2009. … Pittsburgh was 0-for-4 on the power play and is 2-for-36 in the last eight road games. … The Panthers avoided their second four-game skid of the season.