Last night's big win was a boost for Marc-Andre Fleury and the Pittsburgh Penguins. And they threw him right back into the fire for the second game in two nights for this game in Atlanta. It worked out OK for the Flower, who now has 66% of his season win total in about the last 28 hours.
The Pens again conceded the game's first goal, which seems to be the trend this season. Brent Sopel threw a puck on net and Fleury was screened by Zbynek Michalek and tough guy Eric Boulton. The puck seemed to take a riccohet off someone, but Sopel was credited with the goal. The lead would stand through the first, but then the Pens would take over.
Just 2:21 into the second, Evgeni Malkin and Arron Asham worked a give-and-go that saw Malkin beat Ondrej Pavalec 5-hole to tie it up. Sidney Crosby scored a magnificent re-direct goal off a Deryk Engelland shot give Pittsburgh the lead they'd never give up. Then on the power play Malkin finished off a rebound of a Paul Martin shot, after a nice board pass from Crosby fed Martin to make it 3-1.
Notorious Penguin killer Nicklas Bergfors would score to make it 3-2, but Malkin ended the drama with an empty net goal to record his 6th career hat trick. A few more thoughts:
- Evgeni Malkin scored 10 points playing mainly on the wing in his first 14 games. He now has 6 points playing at center in the last 3 games. Malkin's obviously more effective in his natural position, and let's hope he'll stay there.
- Crosby and Malkin combined for 4 goals, 3 assists and a +4 on the night, and obviously had a hand in every goal. The rest of the team totalled no goals, 5 assists and a +1. The best players have to be the best players, especially when you play on the second night in a row, and tonight the big boys definitely carried their weight.
- Sidney Crosby has multiple points in five straight games. To have a five game point streak is one thing, to consistently get multi-point efforts is quite another. Crosby's currently tied with Tampa's Steven Stamkos for the NHL point lead with 27
- Speaking of leaders, Kris Letang recorded an assist to tie him with Detroit's ageless Nicklas Lidstrom for top point getters among defensemen with 17. Right behind them is Atlanta's Dustin Byfuglien with 16. Big Buff has seamlessly slid back to defense with the Thrashers and he played a game-high 25:16 tonight and got 7 shots on goal. Amazing to watch a guy that big be so versatile compared to his role in the Stanley Cup run with Chicago last summer.
- Fleury was solid, only beaten by two crazy shots and got 31 of 33 games. The Pens only scored one goal in the first 42 minutes and he clearly held them in the game with a bunch of terrific stops..
- Craig Adams was a -2 on the night, but his 4 hits included several jarring collisions that definitely made everyone take notice. Adams also played 4:18 short-handed (tops among Pens forwards) for a unit that did not surrender a goal. Big time stuff for #27 there.
- Nicklas Bergfors now has 5 goals in 7 career games (.714 goals per game) against the Penguins and 22 goals in 97 games (.23 g/game) against everyone else. Yeah, we get it already.
Comment of the night!
So before the game I was driving with my girlfriend and I said, "Malkin’s pretty far back in the point race right now…He’s gonna get a hat trick tonight." And she said "I sure hope so" and then proceeded to say that Crosby was gonna get another multi-point game. Tomorrow, we go to Vegas.
ipenguin67 -- (now we wait for confirmation from his gf that this conversation actually took place)