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Total Team Effort Powers Pens Streak

by Michelle Crechiolo / Pittsburgh Penguins
With Sidney Crosby continuing to post impressive offensive numbers, there’s a statistic that has slipped through the cracks.

During Pittsburgh’s 10-game winning streak, 13 Penguins have scored goals and 19 players have notched a point in what has been a colossal team effort.

The offensive contributions from all over the lineup has supplemented the torrid scoring pace of the Penguins captain, especially with the recent absences of injured forwards Evgeni Malkin, Mike Comrie and Jordan Staal.

“It’s not always the same guy,” forward Pascal Dupuis said. “Yes, Sid will get his points, but some guys are stepping in and scoring some big goals for us. Making the right plays, not only on the scoreboard, but blocking shots.”

Crosby has led the team during the 10-game streak, notching 12 goals and six assists over that span. Right behind him is defenseman Kris Letang with nine points (2G-7A) and forward Chris Kunitz with seven points (4G-3A) over that stretch.

Of the 19 players who have gotten on the scoresheet, seven of them were new additions to the Pittsburgh roster at the start of the season.

Now that they’ve gotten situated in the Penguins locker room and have settled into their spots on the team, Letang says they’ve been able to build off of that comfort level.

“We have a lot of new guys on the team,” he said. “We’ve played 29 games so far, obviously there’s some chemistry building between lines and between guys, so I think maybe that’s why everything is coming together now.”

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What’s also noteworthy is that in the past 10 games, five have been decided by one goal.

And in each of those five games, five different Penguins stepped up and scored the game-winning goal: Letang, Chris Conner, Dupuis, Crosby and Alex Goligoski—who paces the squad with three game-winning goals.

“I think that’s kind of a testament of a good team,” defenseman Paul Martin said. “You have your guys that are going to be there night in, night out, the top-end guys. Everyone’s there working and doing the same thing night in, night out but in certain games you get certain players to chip in and that’s always what you need to be successful.”

Kunitz called the Penguins play “an unbelievable team effort.”

“When everybody’s chipping in it gives you the best chance to win,” he added.

When Toronto came to play at CONSOL Energy Center for the two teams’ first meeting of four, they were on a roll.

After finishing the 2009-10 campaign second-to-last in the league, the Leafs had gotten the new season off to a fast start. With their 4-3 victory over the Penguins on Oct. 13, they jumped to a 3-0 record for the first time since winning the Northeast Division in the 1999-2000 season.

Pittsburgh, meanwhile, began the season 1-2 and had yet to record a win at their brand-new arena.

Now, the teams have changed places.

Pittsburgh enters Wednesday’s game perched at the top of the Eastern Conference with a 19-8-2 record and 40 points, while Toronto cooled down during the month of November following their 4-0 start, posting a 3-8-2 record in that month.

“I think we were a different team then,” Martin said. “We’ve figured out what to do with what we were doing wrong, so I think (Wednesday) will be a different game.”

“We’ve learned from it,” Dupuis said of the Oct. 13 loss. “I don’t know if it was a matter of it being too early in the season, or from new players around, or adjusting to the system right, but all of the pieces of the puzzle seem to be in the right place right now.”

Letang, however, is wary of a Toronto team that has added two straight shootout victories after dropping their last four contests.

“We’re a different team than we were at the beginning of the season. We’ve got confidence, but we’re going to face a team with a lot of skill and a lot of speed, so we need to be ready for that.”
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