Petr Sykora scored two goals on the power play, the 99 and 100th power play goals of his career, Sidney Crosby picked up four helpers, and Pascal Dupuis and Ruslan Fedotenko chipped in two goals from the left wing to lead the Penguins to a commanding 5-2 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes.
The Pens scored five goals on their first 13 shots of the game. Michael Leighton was not tested often, but when he was, he was not up to the challenge.
Dany Sabourin turned aside 34 of 36 shots for the Pens, as he made back-to-back starts for the first time in his career.
The Canes came out firing early in the first period, throwing the puck at the net every chance they could.
Sabourin weathered the early storm and the game came back down to earth when Tuomo Ruutu and Niclas Wallin took back-to-back penalties that gave the Pens two power play opportunities.
The Pens failed to generate much during their first man advantage, probably because they allowed Alex Golijokeski to touch the puck.
After the Wallin penalty, and after Evgeni Malkin had been on the ice for over three consecutive minutes, the flood gates opened up.
Crosby sent a pass across the attacking zone to Petr Sykora in the high slot. Sykie received the pass, still drifting backwards, away from the net. In one swift motion, Sykie unloaded his wicked wrist shot and beat Leighton over the blocker. 1-0 Pens.
Dupuis might have dropped acid before the opening faceoff tonight, as he was all over the ice in the first period. He was seeing time on the Pens' top line due to Max Talbot moving back to center on the fourth line in Mike Zigomanis' absence. Dupuis played like he belonged on the first line.
Josef Melichar, possibly the worst defensemen to ever wear a Penguins' jersey (sorry Goligoski), committed a turnover along the wall in his own zone.
Crosby picked up the loose biscuit and attacked the net with Dupuis to his left. Sid held the puck long enough to make Leighton commit, then slid it to Dupuis who tapped it home for a two goal lead.
Janne Pesonen, who was playing in his third game for Pittsburgh this season, had a chance late in the period, but did not get much on his shot and was turned away. Pesonen saw more ice time than he has been used to seeing. He played a decent game, but was overshadowed by fellow AHL'er, Chris Minard, who put three pucks on the net and registered three hits in the game.
Ruutu got his stick into the face of a Penguin just 30 seconds into the second period, and the Pens powerplay hit the ice once again.
Malkin took the puck at the point, slid it to Sid at the right circle for a one-timer. Leighton made the initial save, but Sykora was on the doorstep to bang the loose puck home, extending the Penguins' lead to three goals.
If you have been watching the Penguins this season, you knew that a three goal lead had about the same chance of holding up as Goligoski did of not turning the puck over for the rest of the game.
Ruutu gave the Canes life less than a minute later when he snuck through the slot and deked around the parking cone that is Hal Gill. 3-1 Pens.
Images of Nikolai Zherdev and Petr Prucha booted the Christmas sugar plumbs out of your head and made out with each other.
If the Pens were going to win, they had to score the next goal.
Kris Letang made a great play at the Penguins' blue line, chipping the puck up the boards to a streaking Crosby. Crosby gained the offensive zone, dropped the puck off to Miroslav Satan, and attacked the net.
Satan attacked down the right wing, holding the puck for what seemed like ages. I wish I was watching the game with a bandwagon Penguins' fan, just so I could point out that this was an ideal time to yell "shoot!"
Satan held the puck until he was almost in Leighton's crease, flipped it to the backhand, and threw it toward the front of the cage.
Chad Larose was obviously upset with Peter Laviolette's firing and he fell on the puck and carried it into his own net as a display of his disapproval. 4-1 Pens.
When Matt Cullen has one less goal than Eric Staal, you know your team is in trouble. Cullen cashed in on his seventh of the season late in the period to pull the Canes to within two heading into the final 20 minutes of play.
It was time to find out if the Pens were capable of holding a third period lead on the road.
They did not disappoint. The Pens played their system to perfection in the third period, taking away time and space in the neutral zone, getting the puck deep, working hard in the corners to maintain possession, and most importantly, never getting caught out of position.
The Canes mustered 14 shots in the period, but Sabourin stood tall between the Penguins' pipes.
With about 90 seconds remaining in the game, Malkin forced a turnover at the Canes blue line. Gino fired a shot to the net, which was turned aside by Leighton. The whole world, including Leighton, thought the puck was in Leighton's pads. Ruslan Fedotenko knew better.
Fedo crashed the net, found the loose puck, and sent it, along with himself, into the back of the net, sealing the deal on the Penguins' eighth road victory of the season.
Ladies and gentlemen, Elvis has just left the building.
Final Score: Pittsburgh 5 Carolina 2
- Huge win after the let down in Manhattan.
- Dupuis was insane tonight. He finished every check and played with that speed that has been his best attribute since coming over from Atlanta last season.
- Minard looked good. Pesonen, not so much.
- Malkin had two assists in the game, but Sid closed the scoring race gap to just two points by notching four assists.
- The Pens registered five goals on just 22 shots. Do the math on that shooting percentage.
- The power play finally showed some signs of life, going two for three in the game.
- Six of Sykora's seven goals this season have come on the man advantage.
- The Pens meet the Senators on Saturday at 2:00 PM EST.