- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 5, 2009

SUNRISE, FLA. (AP) - Bryan McCabe and Rostislav Olesz each had a goal and an assist to lead the Florida Panthers to a 4-2 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday night.

David Booth and Ville Peltonen also scored to help the Panthers move into a tie with the idle New York Rangers for eighth place in the Eastern Conference. Jay Bouwmeester had two assists.

Florida, vying for its first playoff berth since 2000, has 89 points with three games remaining. The Rangers, who lost 1-0 to Boston on Saturday, hold the edge over Florida because they have one more victory.

Pascal Dupuis and Mark Eaton scored for the Penguins, who could have secured a playoff spot with a win Sunday. It was just their second regulation loss in 18 games. The Penguins, who have 93 points after 79 games, were coming off a 3-2 overtime loss in Carolina on Saturday night.

In his return to Florida’s starting lineup, goalie Tomas Vokoun stopped 39 shots. Backup Craig Anderson helped lead the Panthers to three wins in their past four games, but coach Pete DeBoer decided to make the switch after Florida’s 3-1 loss to Atlanta on Friday night.

Marc-Andre Fleury made 22 saves for the Penguins.

Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby traded punches with a Florida player for the second time this season after Panthers defenseman Keith Ballard upended Evgeni Malkin with a low check late in first period. Crosby, who got into a fight with Brett McLean during a Jan. 3 game against the Panthers, received a minor penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct and a major for fighting.

Eaton’s power-play goal made it 3-2 with 5:54 left in the third period. His shot from the point went between Vokoun’s legs. Then, with 4:04 remaining, Peltonen carried the puck from behind the net and pushed it home as three Pittsburgh players converged around him. He put the Panthers up 4-2.

Florida went up 2-1 when McCabe scored with 20 seconds left in the first period. McCabe’s slap shot went off Pittsburgh defenseman Kristopher Letang for his 14th goal of the season. Booth’s power-play goal on a delayed penalty widened the gap. With 12 seconds left in the second period, Booth took a pass from Bouwmeester and scored from the side of the net to give the Panthers a 3-1 lead.

Dupuis tied it at 1 at 6:08 in the first period, slapping home a loose puck after Panthers defenseman Karlis Skrastins couldn’t control it in front of the net. Olesz opened the scoring after just 1:55 of play. He swept up the puck after Pittsburgh defenseman Hal Gill knocked it with his glove, then came in alone on Fleury and beat him with a backhand deke.

Notes:@ Panthers C Gregory Campbell played in his 300th career game. … Florida rookie C Michael Frolik left the ice early in the second period after a slap shot from Penguins D Brooks Orpik hit his hand. Frolik returned to the game.

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