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Michalek's late goal lifts Pens over Panthers 4-2

Pittsburgh defenseman Zbynek Michalek scored with 7:49 left and the Penguins handed the Florida Panthers their eighth consecutive loss, 3-2 on Saturday night.

Tyler Kennedy and Pascal Dupuis also scored for the Penguins, who solidified their hold on fourth place in the Eastern Conference. Jordan Staal had three assists, and Craig Adams scored an empty-net goal with 1:30 remaining.

Brent Johnson stopped 28 shots for Pittsburgh, which swept Florida in a season series for the first time.

Jack Skille and Clay Wilson scored for the Panthers, whose are on their worst skid since a 12-game slide during the 2005-06 season (0-8-4). The Panthers haven't won since beating Toronto 4-0 on March 17.

Pittsburgh remained three points ahead of fifth-place Tampa Bay, which won earlier Saturday, in the race for home-ice advantage in the likely first-round playoff matchup. Tampa Bay has four games to play, one more than Pittsburgh.

Scott Clemmensen, making his fourth consecutive start in place of injured Tomas Vokoun (back), made 30 saves.

Michalek has four goals this season, all scored in the past 12 games. With a delayed penalty upcoming against Florida, Michalek beat Clemmensen with a slap shot from the top of the right circle.

A little more than a minute after Michalek's goal, Johnson made a great pad save on David Booth's backhand attempt. Johnson then made another stellar pad stop on Marty Reasoner while Florida was on a 4-on-3 power play.

The Panthers took a 2-1 lead in the first period on goals by Skille and Wilson 22 seconds apart.

After Kennedy opened the scoring with his 20th goal, Skille netted his first for Florida since being acquired from Chicago in February.

Skille, who missed the previous four games and 16 of 18 because of an ankle injury, scored at 14:38. He knocked down a pass from Reasoner and flicked a quick shot past Johnson.

Wilson scored his third goal in 12 games since begin recalled from the minors at 15:00 when he beat Johnson with a wrist shot from just outside the left faceoff dot.

Dupuis tied it 45 seconds into the second period when Max Talbot's spin-around backhand attempt from the front of the net went across the crease. With Clemmensen out of position, Dupuis scored into an open net.

NOTES: Staal's assist on Kennedy's goal was his 100th in the NHL. ... Booth played in his 300th NHL game. ... Florida C Stephen Weiss sat out because of a groin injury. ... Penguins RW Arron Asham missed his second consecutive game because of an undisclosed lower body injury.