Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Penguins 2 - Thrashers 4: We need a slumpbuster, stat!

Two straight games and two straight Tim Horton's donuts for Sidney Crosby in the scoreboard department. :(

The Penguins became the latest victim of the surprisingly awesome Atlanta Thrashers as they lost tonight's tilt by a 4-2 score.

Sidney was shut out in 21:45 of ice time, finished -1, and went 13-for-31 in the faceoff dot. It's not that the Penguins didn't play hard, because they did, but they lacked finish and couldn't beat Kari Lehtonen nearly enough.

The playoffs...slip-slidin' away.

Slava Kozlov and Marian Hossa must wish the Pittsburgh Penguins were in the same division as the Atlanta Thrashers.

Kozlov scored the decisive goal in the third period to beat Pittsburgh for the second time in a week, and the Thrashers ran their winning streak and the Penguins' losing streak to five games with a 4-2 victory Wednesday night.

Kozlov got the game-winner, his 15th of the season, about seven minutes into the third period on a wrist shot from along the goal line that got past goalie Marc-Andre Fleury inside the near post. Kozlov, set up on the go-ahead goal by Jon Sim, has two goals and four assists in three games against Pittsburgh this season.

"That was a great pass through two sticks," Kozlov said. "I was heading behind the goal line so I had to shoot it but it was a great pass. That was a big goal for us."

Kozlov also scored during a shootout - and Hossa did so immediately after him - in the Thrashers' 4-3 victory Thursday in Atlanta. Kozlov has 15 goals and 17 assists in 29 career games against the Penguins, while Hossa has three goals and 15 assists in his last nine games against them.

"We're feeling really good right now - all three phases, the forwards, defensemen and goalies are playing well," Kozlov said. "We're not making mistakes, and that's the thing we need with guys like Hossa and Kovy (Ilya Kovalchuk), you know we're going to score goals. The difference is we're not making mistakes."

The Thrashers have had two five-game winning streaks this month, matching the longest in the franchise's short history. Pittsburgh also has been streaking for weeks, losing four, winning four and now losing five.

"We're right back where we started a week ago," Penguins forward Ryan Malone said. "We've got to dig ourselves back up to where we were and improve. You obviously don't want to go on a skid like this but it happens. We have to bounce back and take care of business."

The Penguins took a 1-0 lead late in the first period on Erik Christensen's sixth goal as he took a rebound off the post and shoved it toward the net, where it deflected off both of goalie Kari Lehtonen's skates and his outstretched stick before sliding across the goal line.

"You score that first one, you want to keep going," Penguins star Sidney Crosby said. "You've got to get a lead and maintain it."

Lehtonen made certain that didn't happen, stopping 35 of 37 shots. He has turned away 162 of 173 shots during the current winning streak.

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