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St. (Sidney) Patrick's Day: Pens crush Devils 5-2 for 11th straight win

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Entering today's matinee game, the Pittsburgh Penguins had regarded the Prudential Center as as house of horrors under Dan Bylsma. The New Jersey Devils trapped and shut the Pens down, as they are known to do, but it was always a surprise and source of frustration for Penguin players and fans a like that Pittsburgh never was able to "Get to their game" in New Jersey.

Under the roll the Pens are on though, that was no problem today. James Neal scored immediately off a faceoff win from Evgeni Malkin just 2 minutes into the game and the Pens were off and running. Andy Greene did even the score for the Devils before the first was over, but shots, possession and total control was in the Pens favor. Martin Brodeur made several great saves to keep New Jersey in the game (this sentence could be in any NJ recap for the better part of 20 years) but then too much pressure and rubber piled up. In a three minute stretch, Pittsburgh cracked Brodeur three times, culminating with Evgeni Malkin one-timing a ridiculously hard and accurate cross-ice pass from Sidney Crosby to put Pittsburgh up 4-1 in the blink of an eye.

It was all but over at that point. The Pens just asserted themselves too strongly for the Devils to handle and again quite easily hung on for another win, and their second in a row by the score of 5-2. The winning streak is up to 11 games and right now all systems are go.

Some more thoughts on the game: -Shots: Pittsburgh 44, New Jersey 14. Total shots attempted: Pittsburgh 59, New Jersey 25. That tells you about all you need to know: the Penguins had the puck for the majority of the game, they had it in the Devils' zone and they were sending a lot of it on target. Dominant performance. -Second straight two goal game for Matt Cooke, who again is really playing some superb hockey and showing how good of a player he can be with the predatory hits out of his game. But Cooke hasn't totally lost his sandpaper, shortly after scoring his first goal he goaded David Clarkson into taking a post-whistle roughing penalty and then the Pens went on to score the goal that put the game out of reach. -On the heels of a two assist comeback, Sidney Crosby out-did himself with 3 helpers today. On one hand, 87's hands look pretty good when he's dishing sauce out, especially the pass to Malkin that could make year-end highlight videos. But on the other hand, the timing and finishing of Crosby's hands aren't quite there, as evidence by generating chances but not being able to score. Credit Brodeur for some quality stops, but you'd think when the best player in the world gets back into gear and rythym, he's gonna bury one or two of the caliber of chances he earned today. -Malkin finished with the highlight goal and assist, and was also credited with a game high 3 takeaways and won 62% of his faceoffs. The favorite national media narrative of "Malkin doesn't play well when Crosby is in the lineup" isn't holding up so far. Malkin's been as noticable and awesome this game as he has been all season long. -Will Marc-Andre Fleury have to take a shower after the game? He might not have even broken a sweat. The Devils only threw 4 shots on net in each of the final two frames. Almost feel tired for him. Probably bodes well for him to get the start tomorrow in Philadelphia when physically he didn't have to assert himself too much. -The refs have a tough job and often times get piled on by the fans when they mess up, so kudos to them at the end of the game for dishing out 10 minute misconducts to Clarkson, Eric Boulton, Ryan Carter and Steve Bernier towards the end of the game. The contest was clearly over and the Devs were getting a little chippy after the whistles. Frustration for a tough day, no doubt, but do something about it during the play, eh boys? Good on the zebras for getting the troublemakers out before a gongshow devolved. -