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Crosby Cranks it Up with Hat Trick

by Tom Mast / Pittsburgh Penguins
Sidney Crosby took a cue from Spinal Tap and cranked it up to 11 as the Penguins throttled the Montreal Canadiens 6-1 Wednesday.

On a night when all eyes in one of the biggest hockey markets in the world, Montreal, were focused on Crosby, the superstar center scored his third career hat trick.

“I felt good,” Crosby said. “I felt like I was getting chances, but I try not to think about that too much. You don’t want to jinx it or think about it. I just wanted to make sure I kept creating chances.”

And create chances he did. Crosby registered nine shots on goal-matching a single-game career high set on Dec. 13, 2007 against the Ottawa Senators.

Maybe it’s just an eerie, Halloween-time coincidence, but Crosby’s first NHL hat trick occurred on the very same date as his third. Crosby scored three goals against the Philadelphia Flyers on Oct. 28, 2006.

Crosby’s first goal can be attributed to a stellar play by Chris Kunitz. The puck appeared to be heading out of the Canadiens’ zone, when Kunitz pulled off a great keep-in and immediately moved the puck to Bill Guerin. Guerin fed the puck across the ice and Crosby buried it behind Montreal netminder Jaroslav Halak.

“(Our line) was really solid,” Crosby said. “Everyone played well, especially Guerin and Kunitz. They did a great job on the forecheck. They got to a lot of loose pucks and I was able to benefit from that a few times.”

The second goal of the hat trick began with an Alex Goligoski point shot that rang off the post. Kunitz collected the puck as it ricocheted off the iron and fired it at the net. Halak made the save, but Crosby was there to put home the rebound.

“We were in the right places,” Crosby said. “That’s the most important thing until you get your legs and you really feel good skating, just being in position.

“I think because of the position that guys were in they made some great plays.”

Crosby’s third goal did not come without a little big of controversy.

Kunitz fed Crosby the puck in front of the net, leaving him alone with Halak for a split second. Crosby juked to his left and tried to slide it under Halak’s pad. The Canadiens keeper succeeded in making the kick save, but the puck appeared to rebound off Crosby’s skate and into the net.

The big horn at Mellon Arena went off and hats rained down onto the ice. It would have been a shame to waste such a celebration, but Crosby knew the goal was good.

“For a split second maybe (I was worried about the goal), when I saw him put the headphones on,” Crosby said “But I was pretty sure that I didn’t kick it or anything. It just kind of bounced off my foot. I was just happy to see it go in.”

The goal did indeed count, and the crowd at Mellon Arena was going ballistic for their captain.

“He had some chances. He definitely made the most of all of them,” Kunitz said. “He is a great guy to play with. It’s nice that he can put the puck in the net at the moments in the game when we need him to put that extra one in. When you are ahead 2-0 or 3-0 it comforts the whole bench.”

Before the conclusion of Wednesday night’s games Crosby, who also went 16 for 24 in the faceoff circle, stood fourth in goals in the NHL. His three Wednesday moving him up to nine for the season.

The big man stepped it up tonight in a big way, and put on a spectacular show for the home crowd.

Guerin knows this could be just the tip of the ice burg.

“I think Sid was ready for a big night, a big breakout game,” Guerin said. “Hopefully it’s the foundation for what we can do for the rest of the season.”

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