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Crosby hat trick leads Penguins to sixth straight win

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Sidney Crosby netted his sixth career hat trick--including his 200th career NHL goal--and extended his scoring streak to 12 games--as the Penguins won their sixth straight game by defeating the Calgary Flames 4-1 at Consol Energy Center Saturday afternoon.

Penguins 4 – Flames 1

Consol Energy Center, Pittsburgh

Despite Mikka Kiprusoff’s best efforts, Sidney Crosby’s hat trick was the difference as the Penguins bested the Flames, 4-1, at the Consol Energy Center on Saturday afternoon. Along with scoring three goals three different ways – even strength, power play and shorthanded – Crosby netted his 200th goal, while Kris Letang recorded his 100th point in the Pens’ 15th win of the season. They are now 8-0-1 in their last nine contests.

GAME FLOW

Although the Penguins owned the first period, outshooting the Flames 24-6, they could not solve Calgary’s Finnish goaltender, Mikka Kiprusoff, who stopped all shots he faced in the first period. Sidney Crosby was awarded a penalty shot 4:14 seconds into the game after a hook by Brendan Morrison on Crosby’s partial breakaway. Kiprusoff stymied the Pittsburgh captain’s attempt, however, keeping the game tied at zero early in the period. Calgary defenseman Anton Babchuk wound up for a slap shot at the point, but ended up breaking his stick and turning over the puck to Kris Letang. Letang’s ensuing breakaway resulted in a hooking penalty for Babchuk and the Penguins’ first power play of the game. Despite firing seven shots and having several quality chances, including a redirect by Evgeni Malkin off of the rush, the Pens’ power play unit could not convert and the period ended in a scoreless tie.

Brent Johnson weathered an early storm from the Flames in the second period, and Arron Asham finally broke through for the Penguins after his team’s extended time in Calgary’s defensive zone to put the home team up by one. Asham’s blast from the right circle, his third of the season, beat Kiprusoff 6:26 into the second period. The Pens extended their lead to two 12:20 into the second. After firing a shot at Kiprusoff off of the rush, Kunitz corralled his own rebound and fed Crosby, who was parked to the right of Calgary’s goalpost, for an easy goal into a wide open net. Kris Letang’s second assist on Crosby’s goal earned the 23-year-old blue-liner his 100th career point.

The Penguins finally cashed in on the man-advantage in the third period to extend their lead to three. Crosby tipped in Paul Martin’s slap shot from the point for his second of the game, 17th of the season and 200th goal of his career. Rene Bourque spoiled Brent Johnson’s shutout attempt with 6:57 remaining in the game, cutting the Pens lead to two. Bourque, who received a pass in front of the Penguins’ net from Alex Tanguay, faked out Johnson and put it past the Pens’ goalie’s stick side for his 11th of the season. Kris Letang took a holding penalty with 1:53 left in the game, allowing the Flames to pull their goalie for a late 6-4 man-advantage. The Penguins’ penalty kill remained perfect, however, and Sidney Crosby recorded his sixth career hat trick of with a short-handed, empty-net goal to seal the Penguins’ win.

QUOTABLE

"He made a great play to just bump it over to me, and he’s been playing some great hockey…(It was a) perfect play there."--Sidney Crosby on Chris Kunitz’s assist

"Last year I felt like I shot a lot and did everything I needed to do and obviously the puck went in, but no I don’t have a number in mind. I think you just kind of have a certain way that you want to play and hope that results in goals, but it doesn’t mean that it always is. You’re going to hit posts, you’re going to miss…you hope that you make the most of them…and I think you have to have an idea of what you have to do to be successful."--Crosby on scoring goals

"Afternoon games, they’re always a little bit tougher…it’s good that guys are showing that they’re ready and they’re ready to compete, even with the earlier games. On top of that I think starts (of games) are an area that we need to work on in general. We’ve had slow starts before in the last couple of weeks – so I think that’s something that we’re trying to improve and hopefully starts like that will give us two, three goals and we’ll get rewarded for it and get some wins."--Crosby on successful beginnings

"Where we started and where we are now – you can see it. We look great."--Brent Johnson on the Pens’ current play

"Anytime the PK is going well it reflects good on everybody. Especially us goaltenders, we get to look pretty good for what they do out there and it’s really nice for us. These guys never stop working. They’re relentless on the puck and they make the smart plays out there."--Johnson on their penalty kill, the best in the NHL

"I think the first period in particular, and the second as well, was maybe the best game we’ve played in the last three or four. Coming out and dictating and playing in the offensive zone on our toes. Getting pucks to the net. Our power play went out there, had seven shots on our first power play retrieving pucks. That’s the way you dictate a game, that’s the way you put a team back on their heels."--Coach Dan Bylsma on the first two periods

SCORE SHEET

Goals: Arron Asham (3) scored once and Sidney Crosby (18) scored three times for the Pens. Rene Bourque (11) had Calgary’s lone goal.

Assists: Kris Letang led the Penguins with three assists, Brooks Orpik had two, and Chris Kunitz and Paul Martin each had one helper for the Penguins. Alex Tanguay and Jay Bouwmeester assisted for the Flames.

IN THE NET

Brent Johnson stopped 30 of 31 shots in Pittsburgh’s victory. Mikka Kiprusoff made 39 saves on 42 shots, including 24 in the first period.

SPECIAL TEAMS

The Penguins went 1-3 on the power play. The Flames were held scoreless on all four of their power play attempts.

UP NEXT

The Penguins battle the Rangers in New York on Monday night.

Penguins (14-8-2)

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