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Aftermath: Penguins 4, Devils 1

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins
Recap (AP) | Photo Gallery | Game Highlights 

Sidney Crosby | Dany Sabourin | Brooks Orpik | Michel Therrien
Pre Game Show    | Crash The Net   
The Penguins are truly blessed. No other team can claim to have the two best players in the world – not even Washington. Night in and night out, Pittsburgh gets clutch, all-out efforts from superstars Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby. The two are growing up together and sharing in each other’s successes. They're the top two scorers in the NHL. Two games ago, Malkin recorded a hat trick. On Saturday night, it was Crosby’s turn.

Crosby struggled to score goals earlier this season. However, he's found that magic scoring touch of late, netting six goals in the past three games. He's now the team leader in goals and is on pace to set a new career high.

Pittsburgh played a sound defensive game against New Jersey. They managed to out-defense the Devils - not an easy task. Dany Sabourin bounced back after getting pulled in his previous game, making 29 saves. All in all, it was one of the most complete games for Pittsburgh this season.
(AP) Sidney Crosby had his first career hat trick at Mellon Arena and added an assist, and the Pittsburgh Penguins snapped the New Jersey Devils' five-game winning streak with a 4-1 victory Saturday night.

Crosby, who has six goals in his past three games to give him a team-high 13 for the season, scored twice Friday night at Buffalo. He posted consecutive multiple-goal games for the first time in his career.

Petr Sykora also scored and Dany Sabourin made 29 saves for Pittsburgh, which completed a 9-2-1 November.

Michael Rupp scored for the Devils, who had scored 23 goals during their win streak.

Sidney Crosby helped clean up the ice following his second career hat trick
(photo by Getty)
What Worked: Team Defense
The Penguins gave the Devils a taste of their own medicine. Pittsburgh played responsible and disciplined in its own zone and took away the Devils’ passing lanes. The Penguins kept the pressure to the outside and limited New Jersey's second opportunities. Pittsburgh also maintained a heavy advantage in possession time, keeping the puck away from the Devils - always the best form of defense.

What Didn't Work: Shutout
The Devils early goal in the third period ended Pittsburgh’s bid for its first shutout of the season. Dany Sabourin did the best he could by making 29 saves, but couldn’t hold New Jersey off the board. It's merely a small blemish on an otherwise perfect performance.
It may seem like every game we choose Sidney Crosby as the difference maker. That’s because he’s been the difference maker a lot for the Penguins this season. He continued his hot goal scoring with his second career hat trick - adding an assist for good measure. Crosby has five goals in his past two games, and six in his past three games. He's also recorded a goal in four of his last five games. Crosby has 10 goals in his past nine games. Crosby currently leads the team with 13 goals and is on pace to set a new career high with 46 goals on the season.

With Crosby's assist, it marked his second four-point game the season. He made a great setup pass to Petr Sykora on a power play with a cross-crease feed. On his first goal, Crosby beat two Devils with his speed and body position. He managed to get Devils goalkeeper Scott Clemmensen off balance and nailed a backhander into the net. His second goal was a result of being in the right place at the right time. Evgeni Malkin sent a diving shot on net and Crosby collected the puck and dished it into a wide open cage. He added an empty-netter by blowing past the Devils players. New Jersey hooked Crosby and knocked him off of his skates. While sliding on the ice, he batted the puck into the empty net.
Dany Sabourin made his first appearance since getting pulled halfway through the second period against the New York Islanders on Nov. 26. Sabourin gave up three goals in that game and bounced back with a tremendous 29-save effort. He came up one-goal shy of recording his first shutout of the season.

It didn’t take the Penguins long to get on the board as Sidney Crosby notched his team-leading 11th goal of the year on the game’s first shot at 1:21 of the first period. Crosby took a pass from Miroslav Satan and sped past New Jersey’s Bryce Salvador. Paul Martin forced Crosby wide but the Penguins captain used his body to shield the puck and skated around Martin. Devils goaltender Scott Clemmensen poked the puck off of Crosby’s stick. But Crosby didn't give up on the play. He re-collected the puck and sent a backhand shot into the net.

Evgeni Malkin laid out his body to block a shot. He was killing a penalty when the puck was moved into the high slot. Malkin slid into the shooting lane to block the shot. The puck didn’t hit Malkin, but the play showed that he was willing to pay the price to kill the penalty.

The Penguins outshot the Devils in the first period by a 16-12 margin. Pittsburgh’s 16 shots were more than they registered in 60-plus minutes in the previous game against New Jersey on Oct. 11 (15).

The Penguins scored their first power-play goal in four games to take a 2-0 lead. The sequence started with Malkin making a spectacular play to keep a clearing attempt in the zone. He chipped the puck back into the zone. Tyler Kennedy fought for the loose puck and sent a nifty drop pass to Crosby. Crosby skated towards Clemmensen and then sent a quick cross-crease pass to Petr Sykora for an easy putt into the net.

Matt Cooke made his presence felt to Devils’ top forward Zach Parise. After Parise dumped the puck into the Pittsburgh zone, Cooke slammed him with a hard check into the open door of the New Jersey bench. Jamie Langenbrunner came to his teammates aid and went after Cooke. The two tangled and were given matching roughing minors.

With Cooke and Langenbrunner in the box, the team’s played four-on-four hockey. Penguins head coach Michel Therrien paired Malkin and Crosby together. His move paid off with Pittsburgh’s third goal. Malkin jumped on a loose puck in the slot and sent a diving shot towards the Devils goal. Clemmensen tried to poke check the puck off of Malkin’s stick. But Malkin’s shot went past him and right to Crosby, who banged home his second goal of the game.

Malkin showed his great athleticism late in the second period. He skated through three Devils players to get two shots on net. He skated around the one player by flipping the puck into the air. Malkin then batted the puck out of midair and onto the net. Clemmensen made the save. Malkin then sped through two New Jersey defensemen to get a rebound opportunity. It was also turned aside but was a great individual effort.

Crosby went for the hat trick on a two-on-one opportunity late in the third period. He skated in with Maxime Talbot on New Jersey’s David Oduya. He faked the pass and then tried to sneak the puck through Clemmensen’s five-hole. Crosby took a hack at the rebound but couldn’t squeeze it through.

The Devils got on the board early in the third period. Rob Scuderi couldn’t settle down a bouncing puck. Mike Rupp picked up the loose puck and sent a shot from the near circle over the left shoulder of Sabourin at 1:54.

Crosby and Rupp got down and dirty in the Devils zone. Rupp played the puck with Crosby in pursuit. Crosby then tackled Rupp, who held onto the Pittsburgh captain. The two scuffled on the ice and received matching roughing penalties.

Jordan Staal did a great job of drawing a penalty. He skated the puck out of his zone, fighting through a check. He then maneuvered around a Devil and fought through another check – maintaining puck possession the entire time – drawing a holding penalty on Paul Martin.

The Devils put on late pressure with a number of opportunities in the third period. As the clock ticked away, New Jersey tried to force the issue. They registered 10 shots in the final frame but could only get one past Sabourin.

Crosby “capped” the game with his second career hat trick by banging home an empty-netter. He raced for a loose puck and was hauled down in the Devils zone. Crosby swatted the puck into the net as he slid facedown on the ice with a big smile.
> Pittsburgh improved to 14-6-3 on the year, with a 7-2-2 mark at Mellon Arena. The Penguins finished with a 9-2-1 record in November. Pittsburgh snapped New Jersey’s five-game winning streak.

> Sidney Crosby gave Pittsburgh an early 1-0 lead when he scored his team-leading 11th goal of the season 1:21 into the first period. Petr Sykora notched his fifth goal of the season on a power play at 7:26 of the second period. Crosby scored his second goal of the night at 11:29 to give the Penguins a 3-0 lead. Crosby notched the hat trick with an empty netter at 17:59.

> Pittsburgh outshot the Devils by a 35-30 margin. Pittsburgh has only been outshot twice in its past 12 games.

> Malkin recorded two assists in the game against New Jersey. His two-point night adds to his NHL leading 39 points (10G-29A). Malkin’s 29 assists are also a league best. Malkin is on pace for a 100-assist season (104). Only three players in NHL history have registered 100 assists in a single season (Mario Lemieux, Wayne Gretzkey and Bobby Orr). Malkin has three goals and five assists for eight points in his past three games.

> Crosby registered his second career hat trick to give him a team-leading 13 goals on the season. He also notched an assist for his second four-point game of the season. Crosby quietly climbed the rankings and is now second in the league in scoring with 34 points (13G-21A). His 21 assists are the third most in the league. Crosby has six goals and three assist for nine points in his past three games.

> The Penguins have the top two scorers in the NHL in Malkin (10+29=39) and Crosby (13+21=34). The last time Pittsburgh had the top two scorers in the league was the 1995-96 season when Mario Lemieux (first) and Jaromir Jagr (second) topped the NHL. The team also had that distinction when Lemieux (first) and Kevin Stevens (second) did it in 1991-92.

> Dany Sabourin notched his fifth win of the season with a 29-save performance. He’s 4-1-1 in his past seven starts (with one no decision).

> Petr Sykora scored the game-winning goal on a power play in the second period against his former team. It was his fifth goal of the season and his fourth goal with the man-advantage. It was also his 98th career power-play goal.

> Kennedy registered an assist on the second Penguins’ goal. He has recorded four points in the last five games (1G-3A) and six points in his last eight games (1G-5A). Kennedy also recorded a game-high seven shots.

> The Pittsburgh Penguins “Toys for Tots Drive” set a new record on Saturday night by collecting 1,859 toys and $5,317 in cash donations. Over a two-game span, Penguins fans have contributed 3,368 toys and $10,288.

> Mellon Arena sold out for the 78th straight game with a complete standing room only attendance of 17,132.
1. Sidney Crosby, PIT
2. Evgeni Malkin, PIT
3. Petr Sykora, PIT
"Sid(ney Crosby) really picked up his game.
You could see the fire in his eyes.”
- Head coach Michel Therrien



Author: Sam Kasan

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