Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Penguins roll; Surprising shutouts

Malkin, Crosby help Pens rebound
Amazing what a few days rest will do for a team.

Evgeni Malkin recorded five points inside 28 minutes to lead Pittsburgh, coming off its longest break (five days) of the season, over Phoenix, 6-1. Malkin scored two goals, including one off a nifty faceoff play set up by Sidney Crosby, and had three assists in tying his career-high for points in a game. Crosby's scoring streak sits at 21 games after scoring his 27th goal and posting two assists.

Special teams proved key. Phoenix failed to score on four first-period power play opportunities; Pittsburgh converted its first three man-advantages plus killed off an extended 5-on-3 disadvantage in the second period after being whistled for three minor penalties in a span of 1:13. For the game, the Coyotes' power play was 0-for-8 while the Penguins went 3-for-5.

Kris Letang posted a goal and assist, Matt Cooke and Chris Conner also scored and Marc-Andre Fleury made 26 saves for the Penguins. Wojtek Wolski broke the shutout bid midway through the third period.

After allowing 16 first-period shots, Pittsburgh held Phoenix to 11 for the rest of the game.

Wait, they shut out who?!
--Tomas Vokoun stopped 26 shots and Florida marched into Philadelphia and pulled off a stunner, earning a 5-0 win to knock off the Flyers, who had won five straight. Evgeni Dadonov and Dmitri Kulikov each had a goal and assist.
--Jonas Hiller made 45 saves, 18 each in the second and third periods, and Anaheim pulled off a key victory, 3-0 at Boston. Brandon McMillan had a goal and assist and Teemu Selanne recorded two assists.

Stamkos nets 100th in Tampa Bay win
Martin St. Louis scored with one second left in the first period to snap a 1-1 tie and also had two assists, but the bigger story was Steven Stamkos becoming the sixth player to score 100 goals before his 21st birthday as Tampa Bay routed Carolina, 5-1. Dan Ellis made 21 saves. Dominic Moore and Brett Clark each had a goal and assist.

Back in front
Toronto made things interesting with a pair of third-period goals but Atlanta's cushion proved big enough to earn a 6-3 victory, putting the Thrashers back in first in the Southeast Division. Tobias Enstrom recorded four points, including a pair of goals, Fredrik Modin also scored twice and Ondrej Pavelec made 37 saves.

--Vancouver limited St. Louis to 16 shots and grabbed a 3-1 win. Ryan Kesler scored the gamewinner, Mikael Samuelsson had two assists and Roberto Luongo made 15 saves.
--Niklas Backstrom made 34 saves and Cal Clutterbuck and Martin Havlat each had a goal and assist as Minnesota downed Calgary for the second time in three days, 4-1.

--As I've always said, the Penguins should never trade Malkin. (At least not until his contract year.)

--Backstrom's resurrection continues. Hurray!

--OK, who else had Anaheim and Florida winning? Either one. The Panthers come to Pittsburgh Wednesday; hopefully they used up all their mojo.

--This is three straight games the Lightning have allowed just one goal. Amazing.

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