Sunday, January 21, 2007

Penguins 8 - Leafs 2: SLAUGHTER!!!

Sidney Crosby and the boys had a little biznaz to take care off before the All-Star Break as they faced the Maple Leafs.

Sidney and the boys went wild and raked the Leafs by an 8-2 score, humiliating The Centre of the Universe(tm) in front of a national audience on Hockey Night in Canada. It was quite enjoyable.

The star of the night was Mark Recchi with his natural hat-trick, but Sidney wasn't a wallflower with his goal and two assists. Sidney also had 3 blocked shots in 17:47 of rather easy ice time.

The goal? A total fluke. Still, who's complaining?

It's certainly nice for the Pens to enter the All-Star break on a high and clinging to the 8th and final playoff spot in the East.

Game recap from
The Pittsburgh Penguins had made it a goal to hold one of the Eastern Conference's eight playoff spots by the All-Star break.

With an emphatic win in their final game before the five-day league layoff, the Penguins achieved just that.

Mark Recchi scored three consecutive power-play goals and Sidney Crosby had a goal and two assists to lead the Penguins to an 8-2 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night.

Evgeni Malkin had five assists, Sergei Gonchar had three assists and Jarkko Ruutu scored on a penalty shot goal for the Penguins, who moved into a three-way tie for the eighth and final playoff position in the Eastern Conference.

"I'm not going to lie to you; we wanted to get there before the break," Recchi said. "And we got to that goal. Guys were talking about it and paying attention to it. Now we can enjoy our break."

Recchi, who also added an assist, recorded the seventh hat trick of his career in a span of 16:57, starting late in the first period. His most recent was March 4 against Carolina, where he was traded five days later before re-signing with Pittsburgh as a free agent in the offseason.

The Penguins, who enter the All-Star break 3-0-1 in their last four games, were 5-for-10 on the power play.

"We were really into it starting the game and the execution was there with the puck," Pittsburgh coach Michel Therrien said. "The guys stuck to the plan and it was a great team effort."

Toronto's Jeff O'Neill scored the first goal 3:19 into the game on a power play.

But from there it was all Pittsburgh as Jordan Staal scored the first of seven straight goals 1:31 later. He tipped in a pass from Malkin while going hard to the net. Malkin has five goals and seven assists during a five-game point streak.

"I'm feeling much more comfortable right now," said Malkin through a translator. "I feel the size of the ice much better and I'm feeling much more comfortable now."

The Penguins took the lead for good with 11:30 left in the first on Ruutu's penalty shot.

Ruutu, who hadn't scored since the season opener, was pulled off his skates by Carlo Colaiacovo on a breakway against Toronto goalie Andrew Raycroft. On the penalty shot, Ruutu faked a forehand shot to freeze Raycroft before tucking the puck into the net with the backhand.

Recchi made it 3-1 with 2:32 to play in the opening period when Ryan Whitney's centering pass deflected off his skate and into the net.

"It doesn't matter who you play, if you're out there moving your feet and keeping the puck moving forward and not making mistakes," Crosby said, "you're going to get your chances and (tonight) we did a great job putting them in when we got them."

Recchi's second of the game and 13th of the season came midway through the second off a pass from Crosby. His third came at 14:25 of the second from Crosby and Gonchar. That was Recchi's 498th career goal and his 1,306th point in his 1,302nd NHL game.

"I feel great out there," Recchi said. "And obviously when you're getting great passes like that out there, it makes it a little bit easier."

Crosby added a 5-on-3 goal 4:02 into the third against backup goalie Jean-Sebastien Aubin, an ex-Penguin, and Michel Ouellet added a power-play goal with 8:52 to play.

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