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Penguins make it five straight, edge Canucks

by Kevin Woodley / NHL.com

VANCOUVER -- After leaning heavily on good team defense and goalie Marc-Andre Fleury to get out of an early-season slump, the Pittsburgh Penguins are starting to find their scoring touch.

David Perron scored his first goal of the season, Sidney Crosby got his second on a power play, and Eric Fehr scored the eventual game-winner shorthanded midway through the third period in the Penguins' 3-2 win against the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena on Wednesday.

Phil Kessel had two assists and Fleury made 18 saves for Pittsburgh, which has won five eight of its past nine games since opening the season with three losses.

"In pre-season, everybody was telling us how good we were going to be, how many goals we were going to score," said Fehr. "I think we forgot how hard it is to score in this league, how good all the teams are. After we got down a couple early in the season, I think we figured it out we have to bring it every night and can't take any games for granted."

Daniel Sedin scored with 6:01 left to spoil Fleury's bid for a second straight shutout, Jannik Hansen made it a one-goal game with 1:07 left and goalie Ryan Miller pulled for an extra attacker, but the Penguins (8-4-0) still won their fifth straight game.

"We can't take much out of that," Canucks coach Willie Desjardins said of the late goals. "We have to be better throughout the game. We're not going to win many game playing like that."

The Penguins were held to two goals or less in eight of its first nine games, but have now scored three or more in four straight games and 14 over the past four.

That included Perron getting his first on a deflection after a good cycle 4:53 into the game. Crosby, who had been held without a point in nine of the first 11 games, made it 2-0 after a nice power-play pass from Kessel on a 4-on-3 advantage 7:17 into the third period. Kessel moved up to the blue line and fed a crisp pass to Crosby at the left edge of the Canucks crease. Crosby quick pulled it across the crease and around Miller before tucking his second goal and sixth point of the season into the open net on the other side.

"Really nice pass," Crosby said. "I expect a lot of myself and work hard to try and make sure I'm doing my job and creating things and producing. That happens sometimes. There's not always a great explanation but you've got to find a way to ultimately figure it out and produce. That's been my focus. Dwelling on what's said is not really going to help the puck go in the net."

Fehr, who signed as a free agent in the summer, scored his second shorthanded in his second game after missing the start of the season recovering from elbow surgery, becoming the first player in NHL history to score shorthanded in each of his first two games with a new team. He finished an end-to-end rush by beating defenseman Yannick Weber and Miller 1-on-1.

It was the exclamation point on a penalty kill that held the Canucks to one shot on each of their four chances, and has now killed 17 straight chances over the past five games.

"We like to push the power play," Fehr said. "We've been on the power play before. You know how tough it is when penalty killers keep coming at you and don't give you a chance to set up. That's what we have done the last couple of games and we have been able to capitalize."

Miller made 20 saves for the Canucks, who lost in regulation for the first time in the past six games (3-1-2) and the third time in 13 games this season (6-3-4).

"When we had energy and desperation we actually created quite a bit," Miller said of the late rally. "It always comes down to how competitive you are and how aware you are about how the other team is trying to slow you down, so we'll have to make note and just get better."

After Perron opened the scoring, Fleury kept Pittsburgh ahead by stuffing Bo Horvat in-tight on a shorthanded 2-on-1 play less than a minute later, and made his best saves early when the Canucks pushed early in the second period. He stopped Horvat's shot on a partial breakaway, got enough of Hansen's breakaway shot with his glove to knock it off the post and out, and dove across to get a piece of an open look in the slot for former Penguins teammate Brandon Sutter.

"I think we have been improving as a team," Fleury said. "We have been better offensively. Special teams have been a little better too. All that together has allowed us to improve."

Daniel Sedin spoiled Fleury's shutout with a double deflection high over the goalie's glove, and Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta bailed out his goalie after he got caught out of his crease playing a puck a few minutes later, blocking Horvat's shot at the empty net. But Hansen closed the gap on an open look from the slot with Miller pulled, a play that happened shortly after Fleury gave the puck away after thinking about shooting for the open net.

"They kept coming," Fleury said. "When they got that one goal they got life and kept coming hard at us. I screwed up at the end. I should have just froze it."

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