Panthers halt six-game losing skid with 3-2 win over Penguins

Minutes after Sidney Crosby tied the game at 2-2 in the third period with a highlight-reel goal for Pittsburgh, Jokinen’s slap shot from above the right circle on a power play won it for Florida.

Jokinen and Gary Roberts each had a goal and an assist and Ruslan Salei had two assists in Florida’s first victory since beating Boston 3-2 on Nov. 20. The Panthers had scored one goal in their previous four games.

Jokinen’s game-winner, a slap shot from above the right circle on a power play with about five minutes left, was his 12th goal but first in 15 road games.

The Penguins lost for the sixth in seven games and 12th in their last 16, even after Crosby seemed to give them a big lift by tying it midway through the third by holding off two defenders while being tugged to the ice.

Crosby grabbed the puck at mid-ice a few seconds after the Penguins went on the power play and, switching from his forehand to his backhand, skated past and around defencemen Jay Bouwmeester and Ruslan Salei to wrist the puck past Alex Auld while sliding to the ice.

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Crosby’s 11th goal was his first since Nov. 20, just before he missed three games with a groin injury.

After Erik Christensen gave Pittsburgh a 1-0 lead by scoring on a four-minute power play in the first period created by Branislav Mezei’s double minor for high sticking, Roberts tied it with his seventh goal on a tap-in of Nathan Horton’s shot.

Jozef Stumpel then gave Florida its first lead since Nov. 24, a 6-4 loss to Ottawa, by steering the puck past Penguins backup goalie Jocelyn Thibault. Stumpel took Salei’s pass from the point to score the goal on a power play in the second. Thibault started after Marc-Andre Fleury lost on consecutive nights to the Devils and Islanders last weekend.

With Auld stopping 25 of 27 shots, Florida won its 13th in 14 games against Pittsburgh since March 2002.