The Pittsburgh Penguins improved their NHL best record to 20-8-2, extending their winning streak to 11 games and Sidney Crosby scored goals 25 and 26, leading the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 5-2 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Crosby’s two point night extended his points streak to a league best 17 games and Crosby reached the 50 point plateau in his team’s 30th game, becoming the first player since the lockout to reach that mark.
Pittsburgh dominated play through the first 40 minutes, getting 2 goals from Crosby, a shorthanded marker from Pascal Dupuis (7) who converted a 2-0 breakaway with Chris Kunitz and Mark Letestu (5) added a second period goal.
Letestu’s second period marker was his first goal in 23 games, after scoring 4 goals in his first 7 games to open the season.
Dupuis’ short-handed tally at the 11:38 mark changed the complexion of the game as Pittsburgh would score three times in three minutes and eight seconds.
After two periods, the Penguins held a 24-10 lead in shots and the Penguins backed off in the third period and the Maple Leafs got back into the game getting goals from Mikhail Grabovski and Tyler Bozak before the 10 minute mark.
It was Pittsburgh’s third line that stepped up once again, and the unit continues to show they are more than just a line that goes away after a few games.
Leading 4-2 and looking to ice the game, Tyler Kennedy won a puck battle behind the net and found Mark Letestu (8) in front who put the game away beating Jonas Gustavsson with a wrist shot to give Pittsburgh a 5-2 lead with 2:54 remaining in the game.
Marc Andre Fleury made 23 saves to earn his 13th win of the season and collected his 10th straight win. Fleury is in the midst of a 12-0-1 run and although he wasn’t tested much in the first two periods, Fleury came up with some big saves in the third period when the Penguins had breakdowns defensively.
Position wise he was excellent as he was coming out and challenging shooters in the third.
The Penguins 5-2 win once again displayed their ability to beat the opposition in many different ways and play any kind of game.
The Toronto Maple Leafs have been built to be one of the toughest team’s in the league but they are no match for the Penguins.
Deryk Engelland as expected squared off against Colton Orr who wanted revenge against Engelland but Engelland once again got a decisive win. A very good tactical fighter, Engelland looked a step ahead of Orr in the bout.
But, the Penguins are more than just about staged fights. They have the type of players who pick their spots and drop the gloves in the right situation when need be.
Mike Rupp’s fight with Mike Komisarek is a prime example of that and Eric Godard came to battle for his teammates, going after Jay Rosehill who was taking runs at players.
Head coach Dan Bylsma read the situation perfectly in putting Godard out with Crosby during that situation.
Although the Maple Leafs sucked the Penguins into what they wanted and it got the Penguins off their game for a moment, this is a unique team in the toughness department.
However, too much was being made out by some media members that the Leafs got the Penguins off their game. Just ask Leafs coach Ron Wilson who didn’t see it that way.
Sidney Crosby has clearly been the difference maker for Pittsburgh during their streak but it’s been Pittsburgh’s defensive play that means the most in the long-run.
Tonight marked the 10th time in 11 games that the team hasn’t given up more than two goals. There’s been situations during this streak where the Penguins have been just dominant at times defensively.
However, not trying to rain on the party as 11 straight wins is impressive against anybody but the Penguins have only faced 2 teams during their winning streak who rank in the top 10 in goals per game.
6 of the 11 teams rank in the bottom 10 in goals per game. The Penguins new defensive prowess will get their first big test Tuesday night against the Philadelphia Flyers.
*Mark Letestu’s 2 goals marked his first multi-goal game of his career.
*Crosby’s 26 goals in 30 games has already started discussion if Crosby will make a run at 50-in-50, although it’s clearly too early for that talk. Crosby tried to downplay that talk after the game saying he doesn’t see it happening but it would be “incredible”.
*Chris Kunitz assisted on Pittsburgh’s first three goals in the game.
*Sidney Crosby was 19-of-26 on faceoffs (73.%).
*Pittsburgh scratched Evgeni Malkin (knee), Mike Comrie (lower body) and Ben Lovejoy
*Tyler Kennedy had another strong game and collected 2 assists. Kennedy had 8 points in his last 10 games.
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