The Penguins used the standard blueprint for an NHL victory in their 4-2 win over the Thrashers in Atlanta. The Penguins power play scored a goal, their penalty killers were perfect, their star players came through with clutch scoring and their goaltender put in another solid performance.
The result is another win for Pittsburgh, and two more points earned in the standings.
Evgeni Malkin stole the show with his sixth career hat trick, but the Penguins were strong in every facet of the game, from offensive zone time, to even-strength, to defensive zone coverage.
The game was tied, 1-1, entering the third period and was very closely contested. But in the final frame, all the little things Pittsburgh had been doing well paid off with a three-goal outburst.
Pittsburgh was particularly affective in their own end. They cleared away rebound opportunities, kept a majority of the shots to the outside and when there was a breakdown Marc-Andre Fleury was there to bailout (AIG style) his teammates.
Add all those elements together and the final equation is a victory.
Evgeni Malkin is starting to find his groove this season. Over the past few games, Malkin looked a lot like the player that won the Art Ross trophy as NHL scoring champion in 2008-09.
Malkin powered the Penguins to victory at Atlanta with his sixth career hat trick. It was his first hat trick since Jan. 19, 2010 against the New York Islanders (he scored all three of those goals on the power play that evening).
Malkin got the Penguins on the board with six minutes remaining in the second period with a sneaky low shot that eluded goalie Ondrej Pavelec. He cemented the Pittsburgh win with an alert play to net his second score. Malkin located the puck off of a weird bounce on the backboards and quickly flipped the rubber into the open netting for a power-play tally. He completed the HT with an empty-net goal with 1:02 to left in the final period.
He finished the game with three goals, one power-play goal, four points, a plus-2 rating and seven shots.
The game was a tight-checking, close affair as both teams played strong defensively. It was a 1-1 game in the third period, and the next team to break through for a goal would nail down a victory. The Penguins captain made sure that team would be Pittsburgh.
Crosby was staking out a position right on top of the crease and disrupting the view of Atlanta netminder Ondrej Pavelec. Deryk Engelland laid into a slap shot from the midpoint. Pavelec dropped to his knees to make a save. However, Crosby re-directed the puck with his stick and it slipped under Pavelec’s arm for the goal.
Although a few more goals were scored in the game, Crosby’s goal put the Penguins in the driver seat and they never eased their foot off the gas pedal.
ATLANTA (AP) - Evgeni Malkin scored three times, Sidney Crosby added a goal and an assist and the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Atlanta Thrashers 4-2 Saturday night for their second straight victory.
Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury won his second consecutive start, improving to 3-6-0 after stopping 34 shots.
Malkin and Crosby added to their career dominance of Atlanta. Crosby has 28 points, including eight goals, in 19 games against the Thrashers. Malkin has 27 points, including nine goals, in 17 games.
• Marc-Andre Fleury made a highlight reel type save early in the first period on Atlanta’s Dustin Byfuglien. The Thrashers had a 1-0 lead at the time when Byfuglien took a cross-crease pass and had an empty net to shoot into. However, Fleury did a split and slid across to get his left pad on the puck and prevented the goal.
• Another game, another injury scare for defenseman Kris Letang. This time a hard slap shot from the point hit Letang in the glove. He was in obvious pain as he skated to the bench. But, he returned to game action not long after getting treated by the trainers. Letang, the Penguins’ leader in ice time, is really proving his toughness this season by playing through some serious pain.
• Sidney Crosby finished the game with one goal and three points. While not all of Saturday night’s games are complete, momentarily Crosby has pulled into a tie for the league lead in poins (27) and ranks second in goals (t-12). Letang also notched an assist to give him 17 points, tying him for the most in the NHL among defensemen.
• Pittsburgh improved to 6-2 in back-to-back contests, including a perfect 4-0 on the second night.
• The Penguins are now 30-9-2 all-time against the Thrashers franchise, with a 14-5-2 record in Atlanta. Pittsburgh is 9-1 in its last 10 contests against Atlanta.
• Crosby now has eight goals and 28 points in 19 games against Atlanta. Malkin has recorded 10 goals and 28 points in 17 contests against the Thrashers.
• The Penguins are 6-3-1 on the road this season. They are 36-21-7 away from home since Dan Bylsma was named head coach on Feb. 15, 2009.