Penguins-Maple Leafs: Milestone Nights For Sid and Gino Propel Pens to Victory
With a goal and three-assist performance, Sidney Crosby notched the 100th goal, 200th assist, and 300th point of his NHL career.
Teammate Evgeni Malkin's four-assist night gave the young Russian superstar the 200th point of his career. Malkin played on Crosby's wing for the first time this season.
What was most encouraging about the Penguin victory was their ability to find balance between scoring with the man-advantage and scoring at even strength.
Crosby and Malkin had a hand in each of the Penguins' four goals, two of which came on the power play.
Marc-Andre Fleury got his fifth consecutive start between the pipes for the Pens. Fleury would be facing off against 41-year old Curtis Joseph, who got the nod over Vesa Toskala. Toskala made 21 saves to earn a shutout, but lost to the Rangers in the shootout on Friday night.
The Pens went on the power play just five seconds into the game, as Niklas Hagman hooked up Malkin off of the opening face-off.
The power play came up empty, and the officials decided it was time to give the Leafs a chance at winning the game. A chance, I might add, that the Leafs looked like they could have done without throughout the first two periods.
The Pens nearly spent the next seven minutes killing off penalties, before Nik Antropov finally made them pay at 14:25 of the first.
Antropov opened the scoring for the Leafs, with what would count as only the ninth Leafs' goal in five games.
The Pens responded to the Antropov tally less than a minute later, as Pascal Dupuis scored his second goal in as many games to even the score at one. Crosby got the puck on the net and Dupuis scooped up the rebound in the slot, beating Cujoke through the five hole.
The first period ended with the score tied at one.
Early in the second, the two teams jousted for position on almost every trip up and down the ice. Jonas "The Frog" Frogren was penalized for interference, sending the Pens on the power play at 7:03 of the second.
It didn't take long for Malkin and Crosby to cash in once again. Crosby welcomed Luke Schenn to Pittsburgh by sailing a perfect pass between the 18-year-old defenseman's legs to the awaiting stick of Miroslav Satan. Satan redirected the puck past Cujoke for his third goal of the season. 2-1, Pens.
Ruslan Fedotenko, who played a much more physical brand of hockey tonight on the Staal and Sykora line, was penalized later in the period, but Fleury shut the door to keep the score even heading into the break.
The Penguins have struggled in the third period thus far this season—most notably in their recent collapse to Washington, which led to the Capitals rattling off four unanswered goals to pull off a come-from-behind win on Thursday night.
Tonight would be a different story. In one of the oddest, and perhaps luckiest goals I've ever seen scored, Sidney Crosby tallied the 100th goal of his NHL career.
Sid broke into the attacking zone at full speed. He lost the puck momentarily in the middle of the ice and Cujoke came out to challenge. Sid poked the puck past Cujoke into the corner, then chased it down. He whipped the puck to the front of the net on his backhand. The puck deflected off of Leafs' defenseman Mikhail Grabovski and wound up in the back of the net, making it 3-1 Pens.
Former Penguin Dominic Moore set the stage for the Penguins' final tally of the night. On the power play, Malkin faked a shot at the point and slid a nifty behind-the-back pass to Crosby. Sid took a look at the net and fired one of his patented slap-passes right to the stick of Petr Sykora, who was posted up in front of Cujoke.
Sykora softly redirected the puck past Cujoke to give the Pens a 4-1 lead.
Late in the third, the Leafs almost regained some life in the game. Nik Antropov directed a puck into the Penguins net, but the play was reviewed and determined to be a kicking motion. The goal was disallowed and the Penguins went on to win the game 4-1.
Ladies and gentlemen, Elvis has left the building.
Final Score: Pittsburgh 4, Toronto 1
- Crosby got a goal tonight, but Malkin looked scary on the ice. He continues to improve on his sophomore performance from last season with every game. This kid has all the tools to go down as one of the best all-around hockey players to ever lace up a pair of skates.
- This was by far the most entertaining game of the season thus far for the Pens. Say what you want about the Leafs, but there is never a shortage of excitement when they match up against the black and gold.
- Tyler Kennedy continues to impress me. He is just one of those guys who doesn't have a low gear at any point in a game.
- Fleury had another solid outing, stopping 26 of 27 shots. With the Pens not playing back-to-back games until the first week of December, I don't see any reason why Fleury won't be in the net for all but maybe one game until then.
- The Pens will hit the road for the first time since returning from Sweden next week, when they travel to Boston to take on the Bruins. Hopefully the Red Sox will be in attendance...
Let's Go Pens!
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