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Penguins vs. Panthers Recap: Crosby's hat trick fuels Pittsburgh to matinee win

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The Pittsburgh Penguins host the Florida Panthers and defeat them 4-0. Sidney Crosby scores 3 goals in the game to give him a total of 40 on the year. Crosby's young linemates Conor Sheary and Jake Guentzel each pick up 3 assists and Marc-Andre Fleury stops 21 shots for the shutout.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Pregame

Same lineup as last game, with the exception of Marc-Andre Fleury getting in the net.

1st period

James Reimer flopping around like crazy in the early going. The Penguins putting pressure on him but failing to get one in the net.

After the first TV timeout the Pens honor Jaromir Jagr for his achievement of making the Top 101 Players list with this great video. The crowd mostly stands and gives a nice ovation which he acknowledged.

The Pens strike for a first goal on one of the craziest goals you'll ever see. Phil Kessel chips the puck OVER the net from back behind the cage. As it flutters down, Patric Hornqvist knocks it baseball style into the net. Low percentage type play for Kessel to try, but hey when you're that skilled why not? 1-0 Pens.

The linesman gets injured because everyone even associated with the Penguins must suffer endless pain and maladies. He is able to return for the start of the 2nd period

Shots tied at 7. Pretty blah period but nice to at least take a lead out of it into the intermission.

2nd period

The Pens draw 3 power plays but are unable to convert. Game remains pretty sloppy and segmented for a 1:00 PM start, both teams look about half asleep.

Sidney Crosby gets on the board with his 38th goal of the season shortly after Fleury makes his best stop of the game so far on a 2-on-1. Ian Cole does really well to start the transition and the top line takes it from there.

Reimer in pretty bad positioning here and then he just whiffs on making the glove save. NHL goalies are usually so solid, rare to see one like this sneak through but that Crosby guy also has a pretty good shot too, I suppose.

Jussi Jokinen takes Brian Dumoulin into the boards from behind, he would leave the game to get checked out. Somehow in the ensuing scrum the Penguins don't even get a power play as a result with teams evening up penalties. Only in the NHL.

Regardless, the Conor Sheary - Crosby - Jake Guentzel lines works magic again and the captain scores his league leading 39th goal of the season.

Shots end up 18-14 in favor of the Penguins after 40 minutes.

3rd period

Dumoulin, thankfully enough, is back to start the period.

Tom Sestito takes a completely unnecessary penalty immediately following an offensive zone faceoff early in the 3rd but Pittsburgh kills it off.

Crosby completes his hat-trick (and 40th goal of the season!) coming off a nifty backhand pass from Guentzel. Yep, that will work nicely. 4-0, time for the hats.

Tom Kuhnhackl continues to play well, and walks around Keith Yandle, forcing the defenseman to take him down and take a penalty but nothing comes of it.

Fleury has to make a big save on Jonathan Huberdeau and does. Wow, forget he was even in this game at all.

The Panthers get another power play late and they put their 4th line out there. Hey gotta try something, after already going 0 for 3 and the team looking flat. It didn't work either, as nothing did for them today.

Pens hold on to get Fleury his shutout.

Some Thoughts

  • Nice to see Hornqvist get on the board, due to injury and a cold streak it's his first goal since February 9th. Need to have him heat up a little particularly at even strength. Interesting to see him on a line with Kessel now, giving each a more skilled winger to work with than they would have on separate right wings.
  • Nick Bonino took an accidental elbow to the head by Jagr after a 2nd period faceoff and briefly left the bench (presumably for a concussion check) but was able to return fairly quickly. Hopefully nothing becomes of that moving forward.
  • Fun to watch Sheary - Crosby - Guentzel gel right before our eyes. 3 offensive minded players and watching them operate with the puck is a thing of beauty. They're seemingly creating at least a scoring chance on nearly every shift. Each of them are over a point per game in the last seven games.
  • Guentzel picked up all 3 primary helpers on the Crosby goals. The 3rd pass was a thing of beauty. Only his 34th career NHL game played but he's so smooth and slick he feels like an old pro out there already.
  • Sid was scoring the goals but he wasn't the only one on the line firing (with 8 shot attempts on the night). Guentzel had 8 shot attempts (5 on goal), Sheary had 2. 18 total shot attempts from the first line, many coming from dangerous locations? Yeah, you'll take that any day of the week.
  • Maybe it was being down their best defenseman in Aaron Ekblad or the weird start time, but Florida just seemed to go through the motions on this game. For a team that practically has to win all their remaining games to give themselves a shot at a playoff berth, I expected a better effort to be honest.
  • Pittsburgh's scoring 4 goals a game on home ice, just absurd stuff no matter what and especially with Malkin and Letang missing some time.
  • Washington won last night, Columbus is on their way at press time to a win this afternoon, so the Pens needed this one to keep pace. Luckily this one was pretty much a no-doubter.
  • Will Fleury need a shower after this? Might not have broken a sweat. Good on him, he deserved to have a nice, quiet game. Seemed more like bad FLA play than good Pittsburgh defense, but either way we'll take it.

Next game on the road in Buffalo on Tuesday night. For now, nice to revel in the latest of another special moment provided by Crosby.