Three years to the day since his first NHL hat trick, Sidney Crosby put forth a repeat performance on Wednesday night.
The Pittsburgh Penguins' scored three times before the end of the second period as his team cruised to a 6-1 victory against the Montreal Canadiens at Mellon Arena. Less than five months removed from winning the Stanley Cup, Crosby's Pens became the first team in 2009-10 to win 10 games.
''When you get three goals in a game, that kind of changes the look of your (season) numbers early on,'' said Crosby, who has three multi-goal games this season and 36 tallies in his last 55 contests (including the playoffs). ''I'm trying to shoot the puck when I get chances and trying to not pass up good shots, but it's just been a matter of the puck going in early on.''
Crosby's first goal of the night came just 8:33 into the game when he one-timed a feed from Bill Guerin past Jaroslav Halak. He made it 2-0 early in the second when he put Chris Kunitz's rebound home before Michael Rupp made it a three-goal game at 12:58. Crosby then completed the hat trick less than three minutes later when a rebound went off his skate on a goal that required video review. Halak was pulled at the end of the period in favor of Carey Price.
''If you give him a chance, he's going to score,'' Halak said.
''I felt good. I felt like I was getting chances, but I try to not to think about (hat tricks) too much,'' Crosby said. ''You don't want to jinx it or think about it. I just wanted to make sure I kept generating chances. When Billy and Kuny are fore-checking like they were, creating loose pucks and stealing pucks, I just try to get ready for those opportunities.''
Tomas Plekanec made it a 4-1 game at 5:39 of the third, but Alex Goligoski and Kunitz scored less than six minutes apart later in the period to put the game away. Marc-Andre Fleury made 23 saves in the victory.
''We made mistakes,'' said Montreal defenseman Hal Gill, who won the Cup with the Penguins in June. ''We had some turnovers and (Crosby) feeds off that. He waits for it and that's when he capitalizes.''
Afterwards, Pens coach Dan Bylsma had nothing but praise for his top line of Crosby, Guerin and Kunitz.
"I think the great part about it was the way they got the goals," Bylsma said. "They used their skill to attack the net. All three of them have tenacity in their game and the battle level in their game makes them great players."
Material from wire services and broadcast media was used in this report.
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