Pittsburgh 7 – Columbus 2
The Pittsburgh Penguins extended their winning streak to 9 games in dominating fashion, defeating the Columbus Jackets 7-2 on Saturday night at Nationwide Arena.
From the drop of the puck, Pittsburgh dominated play, scoring four first period goals, including 3 power play goals in the period.
Paul Martin(2,3) scored twice for his first multi-goal game since February 2008, Mike Rupp (2) scored a tap in goal off an Eric Godard shot and Sidney Crosby closed out the period with a power play goal at the 15:49 mark, chasing Blue Jackets starter Steve Mason from the net.
The goal was Crosby’s 22nd of the season at the time, extending his points streak to 15 games. Crosby and Penguins though weren’t done and would score three more times in the second period.
Tyler Kennedy (5) scored just 3:09 into the second to give the Penguins a 5-0 lead, scoring off a great cycle from the Penguins third line of Chris Conner and Mark Letestu who all had another excellent game.
Columbus got on the board at the 6:21 mark on a Sam Pahlsson redirection goal to make it 5-1 but Pittsburgh would fully put the game away just minutes later when Chris Kunitz set up Sidney Crosby on a 2-on-1 opportunity for his 23 goal of the season and 2nd of the game. Kunitz made a great dish in setting Crosby up who scored a goal scorers goal, burying it past Mathieu Garon, who relieved Steve Mason in the first period.
Deryk Engelland (2) would add a goal late in the second period with booming slap shot to give the Penguins a commanding 7-1 lead after two periods.
Columbus added a third period goal.
Crosby who was the games No. 1 start, has 17 goals and 14 assists during his 15 game points streak. He is four games away from tying his career best mark of 19 games (10/6/07 – 11/15/07) in the early part of the 2007-2008 season. Crosby has surpassed his points total from that streak as he had 11 goals and 19 assists during that span.
In 28 games, Crosby leads the NHL with 23 goals and 46 points. He currently has a 6 point lead over Steven Stamkos of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Penguins improved to 18-8-2 on the season and pushed their NHL best road record to 10-3-1. Pittsburgh has won 6 straight road games. They are tied with the Washington Capitals for the best record in the NHL with 38 pts.
Pittsburgh went 3-for-4 on the power play. The Penguins outshot Columbus 35-23 in the game, including a 16-2 advantage in the first period.
Sidney Crosby (2 goals), Paul Martin (2 assists), Mark Letestu (2 assists) and Kris Letang (2 assists) each collected multi-point games. Martin and Letang earned the games No. 2 and No. 3 stars respectively. Martin led the Penguins 4 blocked shots.
Letang’s two point night gives him 26 points on the season in 28 games. Letang had 27 points in 73 games last season. His career best is 33 points in 2008-2009.
Marc Andre Fleury made 21 saves to earn his 11th win of the season. Fleury is 10-0-1 in his last 11 games with a 1.71 GAA and .939 save percentage
Penguins forward Evgeni Malkin was a late scratch due to a sore knee. Malkin sitting was a coaches decision. His injury is not serious by any means. He participated in the morning skate skated about 90 minutes before the game. Also scratched for Pittsburgh was Mike Comrie and Ben Lovejoy.
Pittsburgh’s seven goals were the most this season. They improved to 11-2 when scoring first.
Pittsburgh host the floundering New Jersey Devils (8-16-2-18pts) Monday night at the Consol Energy Center. New Jersey has the second worst record in the NHL.
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