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Florida Panthers coach Kevin Dineen seethes over call by ref in loss to Pittsburgh Penguins

If Kevin Dineen believes his team has been wronged by the officials, they certainly hear about it.

On Friday night, Dineen eventually threw up his hands in disgust after Florida’s Tomas Kopecky was charged for slashing Pittsburgh goalie Marc-Andre Fleury in the third period of a tie game.

The ensuing power play led to Pittsburgh scoring the winning goal in a 3-1 victory over the Panthers at Consol Center.

Kopecky had charged out the box, but the Penguins were still cycling the puck around the Florida zone when Matt Niskanen zipped a 65-foot shot that flew past Jacob Markstrom’s glove with 12:11 left.

Despite having time to cool off, it was obvious Dineen was still fuming afterward.

Dineen was upset with Kopecky being penalized for what Pittsburgh’s Chris Kunitz wasn’t when he jabbed the puck past Jacob Markstrom in the second. Kopecky was trying to get a puck past Fleury — just as Kunitz did to put the Penguins on the board.

Dineen was also mad there was no call when James Neal jumped Erik Gudbranson after he checked Evgeni Malkin at the end of the ice. Malkin fell and slammed his head into the boards and stayed face down on the ice for a few scary moments. Gudbranson wasn’t penalized for what looked like a clean hit.

“It’s frustrating, certainly when the game was decided on the tempo and that penalty was big at the end,” Dineen said, “especially since there was a non-call for us when a guy attacks Gudbranson after a clean hit. And then they score a goal when they whack at our goalie three times.

“Our guy goes down, and he doesn’t blow the whistle. It’s a tough one to take, but that’s the nature of it. You have to understand where your place is and just go out and play the game.”

The Panthers believed they deserved a better fate than Friday’s regulation loss as they played good defense and had decent offensive chances. Still, the loss was Florida’s sixth in the past seven games with the Panthers now coming home for three games.

Markstrom, making his first NHL start this season, faced a barrage of shots from a rested and loaded Pittsburgh team ready to put Wednesday’s wild loss to the Flyers behind them.

The Penguins came in looking to score a bushel of goals yet found the 6-6 Markstrom hogging the net and denying them for much of the night.

Pittsburgh took aim at Markstrom 60 times on Friday night with 40 on goal. Florida blocked 10 shots and the Penguins fired 10 off course.

“I’ve been looking forward to this all year,” said Markstrom, recalled from the minors Wednesday. “I was just excited to play a game, and the fans were awesome here. I felt like I got into the game really quickly. They threw a lot of pucks from all different areas. It was a fun game to play in, too bad we didn’t win.”

Pittsburgh’s first goal came when Kunitz jabbed the puck away two minutes after defenseman Mike Weaver gave the Panthers a 1-0 lead with a long slap shot.

The Penguins made it 3-1 with 4:45 left when Dustin Jeffrey knocked in an odd-angle pass across the goal from Matt Cooke.

Gudbranson said he expected retaliation from the Penguins after he saw the reigning league MVP go into the boards and not get up.

“I just finished my check,” Gudbranson said afterward. “You never want to see a guy go down, and he is in a vulnerable position. But you can’t pass up a hit like that. You never know, he could go around the net and he could get a back-door pass. It’s unfortunate he got hurt on the play, but it’s one I would take every time.”

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