Pittsburgh Penguins Take Control with Hurricane of Goals

Todd FlemingAnalyst IMay 22, 2009

PITTSBURGH - MAY 21:  Evgeni Malkin #71 of the Pittsburgh Penguins attacks the goal before scoring a hat trick against goaltender Cam Ward #30 and Dennis Seidenberg #4 of the Carolina Hurricanes during Game Two of the Eastern Conference Championship Round of the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Mellon Arena on May 21, 2009 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

None of the NHL detractors who claim that hockey isn't exciting enough or doesn't have enough scoring have watched Penguins' playoff hockey.  The Penguins score goals by the truckload while giving up plenty of scoring opportunities of their own. 

Turn away from the action for thirty seconds and chances are pretty good that you'll miss something.  Game two was another reminder that nothing is quite as exciting in all of sports as playoff hockey.

Game two featured non-stop action as both teams attacked the other team's nets with a vengeance.  Minutes could pass before you remembered to breathe while watching the teams trade scoring chances in a wide open game. 

Goal after goal flew by the seemingly helpless Cam Ward and Marc-Andre Fluery in a 3-2 first period in a game that was closer than the final score.  

The Penguins dominated the second period and took over the lead, 4-3, scoring two goals that easily could have been more in a period in which they outshot the Hurricanes 16-6. 

The Hurricanes were lucky to get out of that period still in the game after fending off several excellent scoring opportunities to include killing a power play that more closely resembled a shooting gallery.

The Hurricanes knotted the game at four in the third period before Evgeni Malkin put it on ice for the Pens with back to back goals as his visiting parents looked on.  If this is how Malkin plays in front of his parents, the Penguins need to make sure they don't leave the country until after the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Malkin became the second high flying Penguin in the playoffs to record a hat trick with Crosby pulling off the feat during the series against the Capitals

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When both Sidney Crosby and Malkin are hitting on all cylinders, the Penguins are nearly impossible to stop and that was on full display tonight.

This was a game the Penguins deserved to win, one in which they fired 42 pucks at the Carolina goaltender who will need to be treated for shell shock before the next game.  Chances are that he'll wake up in a cold sweat tonight with visions of pucks whistling towards him and a big angry Russian bearing down on him.   

This game was high on highlights.  Sidney Crosby tied an NHL record by scoring the first goal of a playoff series for the sixth time during this year's playoffs.  With the Penguins primed to play anywhere from four to twelve more playoff games, it is a record he'll likely own by the end of this year's playoff run.

Evgeni Malkin's last goal, the one that resulted in a cascade of hats, was one of the best of the season, an awe inspiring individual effort that was "Marioesque."  After the faceoff, Malkin grabbed the puck in the corner and skated around the net with a defender glued to him. 

He spun around, moving the puck from his forehand to his backhand and shot the puck up high over a helpless Ward who lost his first game two after winning his five previous attempts. 

Nearly all of the Penguins chipped in on the win with Chris Kunitz breaking out of a slump to notch his first goal of the playoffs to go along with his two assists.  Matt Cooke notched three assists and Sidney Crosby notched a goal and an assist.  A host of other Pens broke onto the score sheet.

Malkin's monster night moved him into the lead in the playoff scoring race, 25-24, over Crosby.

While the series didn't feature the built in animosity of the Philadelphia or Washington matchups, that is quickly changing as plenty of bad blood is starting to boil between the two teams.  Game two was notably chippier than the first game with plenty of shoving, scuffling, and fighting between the players, keeping the referees busy all night. 

The Penguins' win sets up a near must-win situation for the Hurricanes as the series moves to Carolina for game three.  


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