Paul Maurice did not have a dream debut for the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday, as they were thumped by Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-2.
Crosby led the way for the Penguins with four assists, while Petr Sykora picked up two goals on the night. Evgeni Malkin also finished the game with two assists.
Crosby had already picked up his third point of the night just 1:53 into the second period when he assisted on Sykora's powerplay goal. He picked up his final assist of the game less than five minutes later when he set up Satan beautifully for a tap-in goal.
Crosby's four assists gives him 13 goals and 26 assists on the season for a solid 39 points, good enough for second place in the NHL behind Malkin, who now has 41 points after a two-assist effort tonight.
Pittsburgh dominated the game almost the entire way through, although Dany Sabourin was forced to make some sparkling saves, including a point-blank stop on Eric Staal during the second period.
With the win, Pittsburgh moves to 15-6-4 on the season, while Carolina falls to 12-12-2. Most importantly, Pittsburgh gained two points on the New York Rangers, who currently sit atop the Atlantic Division with 38 points.
The Penguins have played four fewer games than the Rangers, and many are beginning to question their shaky play after they fell tonight in Montreal, 6-2.
The Penguins remain the favorite to win the Atlantic Division, despite the hot start in New York.
Crosby and Malkin already have their horns locked in a scoring race reminiscent of the Lemieux / Jagr scoring race of 1995-96, the last time two teammates finished first and second in overall scoring.
If these two keep it up, the Penguins should once again be representing the Eastern Conference in the battle for Lord Stanley this June. I can only hope.
The future sure is bright for these young Penguins, but if they continue to dominate teams like they handled Carolina tonight, then the future is NOW.
Some food for thought. Over and out.