Back in the 'W' Column: Pens Tame Yotes 6-1 on Malkin's Five-Point Night

PITTSBURGH PA - DECEMBER 20: Chris Kunitz #14 Evgeni Malkin #71 and Sidney Crosby #87 all of the Pittsburgh Penguins share a celebration after Malkin's second goal of the game against the Phoenix Coyotes in the second period on December 20 2010 at CONSOL Energy Center in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

This one was technically over halfway through the first period, but thankfully the Pens didn't start thinking that or letting up in the process. No sense in taking a risk in ending the game in disappointing fashion, especially on a night where one of your stars was having a career game and another was aiming for the shutout.

Kris Letang's laser goal in the first period was an obvious sign of good things to come. It was just that kind of night for the Pens, who avoided a three-game losing streak with a win over the Coyotes Monday night.

The first period was just a blur of the Pens owning the ice. Two goals on 14 shots sent them into the first intermission up 2-0, and the second would only get better.

By the midway point of the second period with the Pens up 5-0, everyone in the stands, on the bench, in the thread and watching from the couch was hoping for Evgeni Malkin to finish off his night with a hat trick. Granted two goals and three assists isn't bad by any means, but raining hats is always a welcome sight. He skated into the third with 20 minutes to do it, but ultimately finished with just two goals and three assists.  What an underachiever.

In the third period, Deryk Engelland completely KO'd Taylor Pyatt in one of his best fights of the year and exhibited a lesson in Enforcer 101: never hit a guy when he's down and out. At this point the game was starting to get a bit chippy, as Evgeni Malkin was hit by Phoenix's Oliver Ekman-Larsson in what was later described as retaliation for Matt Cooke's hit on Keith Yandle in the first period. Bob Errey elaborated and said by way of Shane Doan that it was Phoenix's way of retaliating for a hit on their top scorer, but why is it Pittsburgh's fault that a defenseman is tied for the most points on the team?

Unfortunately Marc-Andre Fleury's bid for a shutout was shot down around the 12-minute mark of the third on a shot that redirected off of Wojtek Wolski and past MAF for a goal. At this point it's only right to give a shout out for Phoenix goaltender Matt Climie, who replaced the injured Jason LaBarbera in the second period and kept the Pens scoreless up until the the 1:20 mark of the third when Chris Conner beat him five hole to put the Pens up 6-1. He wasn't asked to overwork much, but he did make some clutch saves to at least keep the Pens looking for a goal in the third period.

Sid extended his point streak to 21 games with his one goals and two assists and was creating some great opportunities around the net all night long.

Next game is Wednesday night against the Panthers, a precursor to the headline event on Thursday when the Pens hit the road to play the Caps.

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