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Penguins vs. Blues: Crosby's 3 points lead Pittsburgh to another win

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Sidney Crosby gets career points 995, 996 and 997 on a beastly night, and Marc-Andre Fleury is sharp in his first game in a long time and the Penguins ride to a fairly easy 4-1 win in St. Louis on Saturday night.

Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Pregame

1st line Chris Kunitz is back, as is Bryan Rust. Carter Rowney centers the Swedish besties. And, for the first time in 3 weeks your starting goalie is none other than Marc-Andre Fleury!

1st period

Not too much going on early. Teams trade off injuries, Robbie Fabri gets ridden into boards by Carter Rowney and is extreme pain on his leg and leaves. A little later Carl Hagelin takes a high hit from Alex Steen and goes to the dressing room immediately.

It's the Penguins who strike first - Kunitz makes a nice pass down low to Sidney Crosby who makes an even nicer play to drop to a knee and backhand snap the puck perfectly top-shelf in the net. You know, just Crosby things, league high 29th of the year. 1-0 Pittsburgh.

Pens take a couple of penalties late in the period, but get out of it unscathed. Shots a commanding 12-4 for Pittsburgh. And as Bob Grove pointed out, all 4 STL shots in the 1st period came from defensemen, not exactly ideal for them.

2nd period

About those two penalties mentioned above...Ian Cole gets out of the penalty box and is sprung on a clean breakaway but is unable to finish, naturally. Then momentarily later Kris Letang steps out of the box and is sprung on a clean breakaway and, well, it's 2-0.

Great shift in the o-zone for the Pens, capped off by Crosby making a great pass down to Justin Schultz who with a small angle fires it home. 3-0.

Weird play, Letang gets the puck out from the corner, ref in the way and ends up skating low and off-balance into a Lehtera check. Letang leaves right away for the dressing room after absorbing the hit to the head.

Period ends, shots 19-16 on the game for Pittsburgh. Goals 3-0 Pittsburgh.

3rd period

Thankfully, Letang is back on the ice for the start of the period.

Midway through the period the Pens have an uninspired power play that gives up a lot of chances against and culminates at even strength with Patrik Berglund cutting to the net and putting in a Colton Parayko shot/pass. 3-1.

Crosby scores a pretty empty netter, stealing the puck off Kevin Shattenkirk then flipping it from the red line over Pietrangelo and on target. Nice way to score his 30th of the season and put a bow on this game.

Some Thoughts

  • The game's first goal was one of those "game within the game" type of things. St. Louis ices the puck so they have to keep the Carl Gunnarsson - Kevin Shattenkirk pair plus center Jori Lehtera on the ice. Not the group they would chose to match against Crosby (that's top pair of Jay Bouwmeester - Alex Pietrangelo ), but they obviously had no choice due to the icing trapping them with a d-zone draw. Pittsburgh quickly gets the top-line out, Crosby wins the faceoff, Kunitz makes a good pass and Crosby makes a great finish.
  • Nice job by Rowney for his first NHL point, a simple and wide-open long pass up for Letang's goal.
  • Costly game with Hagelin leaving in the 1st and not coming back and even more troubling with his history, Letang taking contact to the head and leaving immediately. Needless to say hopefully both end up not being too damaging. Letang would finish the game, but we've seen players finish game only for symptoms to pop up later.
  • Great plays by Crosby for career points 995 on the one-time, one-knee, backhand top-shelf goal. Followed up by a crisp, cross-ice pass to give Schultz a wide open net. Feels like we're just numb to his greatness, it's so frequent and consistent.
  • Mike Yeo is now the STL head coach after the firing of Hitchcock earlier in the week..Did you know it's been almost 7 years since his last time behind the bench for the Pens (May 2010). Don't know why, just felt like he hung around longer into the Bylsma era to me.
  • Feels good for Fleury to play well and not be bombarded with shots. Through 2 periods he only saw 16 shots but at least 3 were breakaways and required great saves For the night he only saw 23 total. Sort of a Marty Brodeur-type night where the volume of shots wasn't high, but the goalie had to be sharp to make a couple of big saves. To Fleury's credit, and despite 3 weeks of not playing, he was very sharp. Good on him.
  • Turning point of the game was going down 3v5 late in the 1st. The Pens didn't get scored on, and better yet each player (Cole and Letang) got the out-of-the-box breakaways, with Letang converting to make it 2-0, when it looked likely to turn into a 1-1 game while 2-men down.
  • #SIDTHE1KID watch up to 997 career points on a 3 point night tonight. The upcoming schedule isn't exactly defensive juggernauts and with the way Sid's clicking this milestone seems to be coming up on the horizon very shortly..

After a successful 2-win weekend, the boys get 2 days off and will host Calgary on Tuesday and before heading out west for a mini-2 game roadie to Colorado (Thursday) and Arizona (next Sat).