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Two more for Crosby as Pens' win streak reaches 11

by Dan Rosen /
PITTSBURGH -- Sidney Crosby heard the "MVP" chants and he saw the standing ovation.

They were hard to miss after he scored his second goal in Pittsburgh's 5-2 win over Toronto.

Crosby, who extended his point streak to 17 games, helping the Penguins extend their winning streak to 11 contests, wants every Penguin fan to know how much he appreciates the attention and the heartwarming roar of approval he got from the 18,158 of them that were inside CONSOL Energy Center on Wednesday night.

But, please, he urged during his postgame scrum with the media, let's make sure we realize it's only Dec. 8 and there are still 52 games to be played.

"There's a lot of season left," Crosby said, referring to the MVP chants that cascaded down upon him after he scored to put Pittsburgh up 4-0 with 5:14 left in the second period. "As a group we want to keep going and individually I want to keep going. I appreciate, though. Don't get me wrong, but I want to keep going."

Crosby now has 20 goals and 15 assists during his current streak. He has a League-high 26 goals and 50 points through 30 games.

Just two weeks ago, the 50-in-50 talk centered on Tampa Bay center Steven Stamkos. Now it's turned to Crosby, who is just slightly off a 50-in-50 pace.

Pittsburgh plays Game No. 50 on Jan. 25 right here against the New York Islanders, but Crosby, in doing his best to deflect the attention away from that kind of talk, does not expect it to be an extra-special night.

"Honestly I think it's pretty far-fetched for that to happen," he said. "Maybe someday somebody will and if they do that's unbelievable, but I think it's pretty easy not to think bout it because I really don't see that happening. It would be incredible and whoever does it, hats off, but I don't think it's going to happen so I think it's easy not to think about it."

He can say that now, on Dec. 8, after Game No. 30. But, if he and the Penguins continue at this current pace, the talk will heat up even more.

Even without centers Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal, perhaps the team's second and third best players, Pittsburgh has its longest winning streak since it set an NHL-record with 17 straight regular-season wins in 1992-93. Marc-Andre Fleury made 23 saves, including 13 in a Toronto-dominated third period, for his 10th straight victory.

Fleury hasn't lost in regulation since Nov. 2 in Anaheim. Ironically, that's where Crosby started his point-scoring streak.

"We've showed that we can hold onto leads so I think everybody is confident no matter what the score is," Fleury said, referencing the Leafs' attempt at a comeback in the third period. "We just play and play hard and tonight the guys did a good job."

Toronto wouldn't go down quietly. The Leafs tried for the second time in as many games to mount a comeback in the third period after being thoroughly outplayed through 40 minutes.

Unlike in Washington on Monday, when they roared back for three goals in the third and eventually won in a shootout, the Maple Leafs couldn't muster enough to stop the streaking Penguins.

"We were a step behind and they're going to burn us," Leafs forward Colby Armstrong said. "It's too hard to come back against a team like that."

Tyler Bozak and Mikhail Grabovski made it interesting by scoring within the first 8:38 of the third period, but Pittsburgh killed off Matt Cooke's tripping penalty at 9:42 and held its ground long enough before forward Mark Letestu scored his second goal of the night with 2:54 to play.

Letestu hadn't scored in the previous 22 games.

"It's normal, you get a lead like that and you see it time and time again, you sit back," said Crosby, who had six penalty minutes, including a double-minor in the third period, to go along with his two goals. "You have to remind yourself that when you're a real good team you don't let those things affect you and make sure you play the same way for 60 minutes. It's a good lesson for sure. Hopefully we get ourselves more leads like that and we can work on it, but it's something we have to improve on."

Toronto wound up outshooting the Penguins 15-2 in the third, but coach Ron Wilson didn't care much about that.

"The turning point of the game was when they dropped the opening faceoff," a brutally-honest Wilson said. "We didn't compete for 40 minutes. The hole could have been deeper."

Pittsburgh built its 4-0 lead by virtue of some smart and timely plays, and also some poor defense on the Leafs' part.

Crosby made it 1-0 at 8:35 of the first period after refusing to give up on the play. With Leafs defenseman Mike Komisarek trailing him, Crosby eventually poked the puck over the goal line on his second rebound attempt after charging the net to follow in Chris Kunitz's shot from the left side.

It was 4-0 before the Leafs had a chance to blink. Dupuis, Letestu and, yes, Crosby scored over a span of three minutes and 12 seconds in the latter half of the second period.

Dupuis started the barrage by converting on a shorthanded 2-on-0 against Leafs goalie Jonas Gustavsson at 11:38.

He set up the 2-on-0 by poking the puck through Tomas Kaberle's barely separated legs at the far blue line. Kunitz picked up the puck and gave it to Dupuis, who actually faked a backhanded pass before blowing a shot over Gustavsson's catching glove.

It was the Penguins' sixth shorthanded goal of the season.

"I kind of felt sorry," Dupuis said, laughing. "A 2-on-0 and I fake the pass and put it in."

Letestu's made it 3-0 only 95 seconds later. He sniped a shot from the high slot after Tyler Kennedy's centering pass hit off Francois Beauchemin's left skate and bounced right to Letestu.

"That first one was a bit of a relief," Letestu said.

The crowd barely had enough time to settle down before Kunitz and Crosby ended up on a 2-on-1. Kunitz fed his center with a crossing saucer pass and Crosby did the rest, sending a low one-timer through Gustavsson's legs for his 26th goal of the season in just 30 games.

As we already mentioned, Game No. 50 is Jan. 25 against the Islanders at CONSOL Energy Center.

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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