Crosby's assists lead Pens past Sens, 6-3
Friday, 11.25.2011 / 9:56 PMPITTSBURGH --
he Pittsburgh Penguins
, eager to rebound after a poorly played game, threw everything they could at the Ottawa Senators
. A lot of shots. Plenty of new looks. And goal after goal in the opening 10 minutes.
But it's the elbow that Sidney Crosby
threw at forward Nick Foligno
's head that most upset the Senators during a disappointing finish to a mostly good road trip.
Crosby set up three goals during a four-goal first period that sent goalie Craig Anderson
to the bench, and the Penguins shook off an early Ottawa goal -- and a rare home-ice loss on Wednesday -- to beat the Senators 6-3 at Consol Energy Center on Friday night.
Crosby couldn't find the net for the second game in a row, though he did ring a goal post, but he helped on goals by Chris Kunitz
, Steve Sullivan
and Evgeni Malkin
. Tyler Kennedy
added his ninth goal in 14 games against Ottawa.
Led by their newly returned captain, the Penguins turned a 1-0 deficit into a 4-1 lead in a span of 7 minutes, 25 seconds, delighting the largest hockey crowd (18,610) in Consol history.
"I think we dominated the whole game," Malkin said. "Coach (Dan Bylsma) said we needed to play better the first 20 minutes, and we did a great job. We scored four goals and controlled the whole game."
The flurry deflated the Senators, who completed a 3-2-1 road trip that would have felt much better had they built off Kaspars Daugavins
' goal 1:19 into the game. But Anderson, who had allowed only five goals on 101 shots while winning his previous three starts, was pulled barely nine minutes into the game after yielding four goals on eight shots.
Of course -- considering the attacking talent they possess -- the Penguins are capable of scoring in a hurry. For an example, Crosby hit a post during a second-period shift in which coach Dan Bylsma rolled out a line of Crosby, Malkin and Staal, normally his top three centers.
Malkin already has a nickname for the never-before-seen unit: The Three Terrors.
"We surprised them. We never played (together), and we had good chances to score," Malkin said. "I like it. It's great offensive guys who can control the puck and make passes. I like that."
With depth like that, the Atlantic Division-leading Penguins are 7-0-1 in their last eight at home.
Crosby appears ready to make a quick ascension up the scoring list, too. He has two goals, five assists and is a plus-5 after three games, and – here's the surprising part -- he also has four penalties.
With Pittsburgh up 5-2 in the third, Crosby went to the box for elbowing Foligno, who had knocked Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury
off his skates. Crosby twice poked Foligno in the midsection with his stick before squarely landing the elbow. Foligno looked ready to punch Crosby, but Kunitz intervened and shoved Foligno into the cage.
"Sid stood up for me there, that was nice," Fleury said. "It's nice to have your teammates back you up."
Crosby is showing no reluctance to mix it up since returning from a concussion layoff that dated to Jan. 5. He nearly fought with the Blues' David Backes during St. Louis' 3-2 overtime win on Wednesday night.
Foligno wonders what happened to the Crosby who is lobbying the NHL to eliminate hits to the head.
"I just kind of got a little frustrated he would do something like that, so I went back at him.," Foligno said. "It's not a big deal, but it is something he preached all summer about, that we should limit that, and then he goes and does it. It's over now. But I was disappointed he did that."
Bylsma was willing to experiment after the Penguins were flat and uncharacteristically sloppy against St. Louis. The Senators probably wish he hadn't, given that 12 of the Penguins' 20 skaters in uniform had at least one assist. Kennedy and Paul Martin
each had two helpers.
"The last game we made a lot of mistakes coming through the neutral zone," Crosby said. "Tonight we did a better job of getting the puck in deep and going to work, and we created chances that way. That's our game. Speed's our game."
The goals came rapidly after Kunitz put a wrist shot from the left circle past Anderson off Crosby's pass only 27 seconds after Daugavins scored. Shortly after frequent combatants Arron Asham
of Pittsburgh and Zenon Konopka
of Ottawa fought, Kennedy banked a shot created by his own rebound off Anderson at 3:25.
With the Penguins on a brief 5-on-3 power play less than four minutes later, Steve Sullivan
– who has a goal in each of Crosby's three games – scored on a shot that deflected off defenseman Chris Phillips
and into the Senators' net.
"That's something we didn't want to do, sit and watch them play," Phillips said.
Deflections helped the Penguins all night, too.
"They got some good bounces and, unfortunately for Anderson, they went in," center Zack Smith
said. "But, at the end of the day, we didn't show up."
Malkin finished off the four-goal outburst that took less than a half a period to accomplish. As Kris Letang
's stick broke on a shot, the puck ricocheted off Senators forward Milan Michalek
to Malkin in the right circle, and he beat Anderson with the shot that caused coach Paul MacLean to bring in backup goalie Alex Auld
, who made 29 saves.
Fleury turned aside 24 shots, though he later gave up goals to Jared Cowen
and Erik Condra
. Pittsburgh got one back in the third when Staal beat Auld inside the far post.
Crosby, who also won 18 of 25 faceoffs, will play back-to-back games for the first time since returning when the Penguins play Saturday night at Montreal, which lost to Philadelphia 3-1 earlier Friday.